DataRoom AM: Ten’s takers

The auction process for Ten Network resumes this week, while the ACCC takes a close look at the proposed Fairfax Media and Macquarie Radio Network tie-up.

Ten Network is set to restart talks with its suitors this week after a break in takeover discussions over the festive season, but are prospective buyers starting to fall by the wayside?

Elsewhere, the list of probable bidders for east coast power assets continues to swell, the ACCC queries a major radio merger between Fairfax and Macquarie Radio Network and talk of further asset sales in WA grips the market.

A joint bid from Discovery Communications and Foxtel remains the frontrunner in the high-profile auction of Ten Network as talks restart this week, but three other suitors haven’t given up on gaining control of the troubled network. According to The Australian Financial ReviewSaban CapitalSilver Eagle and Anchorage Capital remain in the race despite reports that Saban and Silver Eagle exited stage left earlier this year.

Still, one of those three is rumoured to be convinced that Discovery-Foxtel -- which maintain the highest bid -- have a leg-up and could possibly enter exclusive negotiations in coming weeks. If such a circumstance doesn’t eventuate, then the prospect of a second round of bids looms large, though the risk of a deal falling through appears high.

Sticking with media, the ACCC has detailed its fears about the potential impact of a merger of Fairfax Media’s radio assets with Macquarie Radio Network. The two parties reported plans for a $200 million tie-up just prior to Christmas but are awaiting approval from Macquarie shareholders and the competition watchdog, with the latter slated to release its decision on March 5.

In infrastructure, China’s State Grid has entered the race for as much as $50 billion worth of power assets in NSW and Queensland after hiring HSBC as an adviser. The list of interested parties is swelling by the week, but it currently appears as if State Grid will be fighting consortia led by AustralianSuperHastings Funds Management and IFM Investors as well as Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong.

Meanwhile, advisers working on the divestment of two WA ports are believed to be pressing the Barnett government to push ahead on more privatisations to shore up the state budget. The two ports -- Kwinana and Utah Point -- were seen worth $1bn ahead of the iron ore price collapse, but now may command just $500m, with the larger Fremantle Ports and Pilbara Ports labelled as other divestment opportunities.

In resources, South African-based AngloGold Ashanti has received interest in its 70 per cent stake in the Tropicana gold mine in WA, the AFR reports. Independence Group, which holds the other 30 per cent of the $1.2bn mine, has been linked to the tyre-kicking but it’s believed talks have already gone quiet.

In energy, the mystery suitor for Infigen Energy has been revealed as a JV between Malaysia’s Taliworks Corporation and Employees’ Provident Fund, with talks underway to buy the 33 per cent stake held by London’s Children’s Investment Fund Management.

Elsewhere, Bradken has hinted at a capital raising should an $872m takeover offer from Bain Capital and Pacific Equity Partners fall through, according to the AFR. However, the takeover is seen as likely to get the green light from Bradken’s board in light of recent market turbulence.

Finally, security tech group Future Fibre Technologies has joined the 2015 IPO pipeline, while a Leighton JV has been awarded a rail construction contract in Hong Kong worth $929m.

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