DataRoom AM: Top-dollar divestments

Investment bankers have begun pitching for coveted advisory roles ahead of the next batch of public asset sales, while Treasury Wine is set to open its books to KKR following the suitor’s higher bid.

The race for prized advisory roles for the next batch of public asset sales is heating up, with a seat at the table on the divestment of the corporate watchdog’s registry business drawing plenty of competition.

Elsewhere, KKR has found the right price to tempt Treasury Wine Estates, James Packer bets on a triumphant return to Vegas, M&A action in the local energy sector continues to bubble and a major local office property sale is in the works.

The Abbott government may not be having much luck in securing the passage of its first budget through the Senate, but it’s pressing forward with plans to repair the budget through asset sales regardless. According to The Australian Financial Review, pitching for advisory roles on the potential sale of ASIC’s registry business and the Royal Australian Mint is on in earnest this week ahead of mandates potentially being handed out at the end of the week.

The registry business, worth upwards of the $3 billion, is the greatest lure as it could turn into one of the biggest IPOs of next year. A trade sale would also be considered given reports from the AFR of likely interest from ComputershareLink Market ServicesSageVedaSAI Global and Dun & Bradstreet. The Mint, on the other hand, appears only capable of raising $100-$150 million through a likely sale to a trade buyer.

Confirmation of a higher bid for Treasury Wine Estates was forthcoming yesterday, with KKR putting forward a revised $3.4bn proposal in conjunction with new JV partner Rhone Capital. The offer of $5.20 a share, a sharp increase on the rejected $4.70 a share bid in May, has bought KKR a ticket to TWE’s data room and most likely full ownership in coming months.

In property, CBUS Property’s two most significant Melbourne assets are believed to be interesting several prospective buyers ahead of a sale that will reap a combined $1bn-plus. Among the suitors are GPT GroupCharter Hall and AMP Capital, with the deal to be among the largest direct office property sales in local history.

Second round bids are due soon after the sales process was extended due to strong demand.

In gaming, James Packer’s Crown Resorts has confirmed a return to the bright lights of Las Vegas, wrapping up a deal to buy a vacant site on the famous Strip. The arrangement sees Crown outlay $US280m as majority owner of the development, with Oaktree Capital on deck as a partner. The deal follows seven years after Crown made an unsuccessful play for the site, when it was outbid by El-Ad Properties via a $US1.2bn offer for what was then the New Frontier Hotel and Casino.

In energy, Roc Oil’s merger with Horizon Oil appears dead after the former backed a $474 million takeover bid from China’s Fosun International. Roc’s board told shareholders the Fosun proposal was a step forward on merger plans with Horizon given it offered a significant valuation premium. The news has seen Horizon call off this week’s shareholder vote on the planned merger.

Roc isn’t the only local energy firm agreeing to a takeover from an Asian-based firm, with Nido Petroleum backing a $110m takeover proposal from Thailand’s BCP Energy International. The deal is conditional on 90 per cent shareholder acceptance and FIRB approval.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure is facing a race against time to secure control of local firm Envestra. CKI’s bid is just halfway to the 50 per cent acceptances mark with Friday’s deadline fast approaching. According to the AFR, CKI is frantically chasing the support of a register loaded with hedge funds as it makes the assumption 33 per cent is off limits due to resistance from fellow Envetra suitor, and major shareholder, APA Group.

Finally, Atlas Iron has dismissed the takeover speculation swirling around the company. A number of analysts have suggested the recent buyout of rival Aquila Resources could be a precursor to a takeover of Atlas, but the boss of the potential target, Ken Brisden, insists the firm is not for sale.

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