DataRoom AM: Transurban's road closure

Transurban nabs Queensland Motorways at a staggering price, while Wesfarmers weighs a Healthscope offer.

The largest transport infrastructure takeover in Australia’s history is in the books as a Transurban-led consortium claims control of Queensland’s largest toll road operator. The seller has every reason to celebrate given the deal cleared analyst expectations by a wide margin.

Elsewhere, Wesfarmers weighs a bid for Healthscope, Australand rebuffs Stockland’s takeover offer, Horizon Oil draws the eyes of larger rivals and Genworth Australia releases more details on its planned IPO.

One of the biggest corporate deals in Australian history has been secured, with Transurban, AustralianSuper and a division of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority teaming on a $7.06 billion purchase of Queensland Motorways. In a tight race it is believed the Transurban-led group edged out a consortium including Hastings Funds Management and Spain’s Abertis by less than $100 million.

The competitive bidding led to a staggering sale price, being 40 per cent above initial projections and more than 10 per cent above the latest valuations from analysts. The deal is expected to conclude in the third quarter, with Transurban claiming 62.5 per cent, AustralianSuper 25 per cent and ADIA’s Tawreed Investments the other 12.5 per cent from current owner the Queensland Investment Corporation.

Meanwhile, the list of suitors for $5bn hospital operator Healthscope could expand beyond previously named groups from the US, China and Malaysia, with Australia’s own Wesfarmers rumoured to be an interested onlooker ahead of the bid deadline of May 5.

According to The Australian Financial Review, Wesfarmers is running the numbers on an offer, though has yet to decide with it will lodge a formal proposal. The Bunnings and Coles owner has the cash to complete a deal, though it would be a big risk to enter a new sector via a hotly contested auction.

In property, the board of Australand has spurned a takeover offer from Stockland. The suitor last month secured a 19.9 per cent stake in Australand for $453.3m and this week approached the target with a $1.95bn offer to buy the rest of the company. The rejection puts the ball back in Stockland’s court and it would be a surprise if it failed to make another overture.

Elsewhere, ASX-listed Horizon Oil is in takeover discussions with an unnamed suitor, according to the AFR. The oil and gas junior, currently valued at just shy of $450m by the market, could announce a deal before the end of the week, with Santos, Roc Oil and AWE on the list of likely buyers. It seems the rumour of a takeover bid filtered through to some investors before the close of trade yesterday as Horizon stock soared over 10 per cent higher.

In the IPO market, a prospectus for the proposed float of Genworth Australia has been released, with the US-owned firm seeking up to $754m from investors. The company is hoping to tap into the recent recovery of the IPO market, with Beacon Lighting, Genesis Energy and Japara Healthcare setting the market alight in the past 10 days. Genworth currently plans to list on May 23, with as much as 40 per cent of the company to be sold into the IPO.

Finally, Hoyts Group is mulling a name change ahead of a $700m float on the ASX early next year. Proposals from investment banks to the cinema operator’s owners have included the option of a branding shake-up to stir investor interest.