DataRoom AM: Wanda's cash splash

China's Wanda Group swoops in on prime Gold Coast real estate, pledging to spend $1.7bn investing in Australian property, while the plot thickens at Australand.

China’s richest man has made a major foray into Australia, with a property buy on the Gold Coast sealed amid a pledge to spend at least $1.7 billion in expanding his empire Down Under.

Elsewhere, Frasers Centrepoint meets further resistance in its push for full control of Australand, Telstra puts its war chest to work and State Grid Corporation of China mulls the best way forward on a bid for poles and wires assets in NSW.

Wang Jianlin’s Wanda Group has announced plans to launch an Australian arm that would be responsible for at least $1.7bn worth of property investments in the near-term. For Jianlin, the richest man on mainland China, it represents the latest acquisition in a global buying spree, with his first move in Australia to snap up a 55 per cent stake in the $1bn Jewel development on the Gold Coast. The stake is believed to have cost Wanda close to $300 million.

The Gold Coast site will include a resort hotel and comes amid a surge of interest from Chinese firms in the local casino and hotel space.

Also in property, the plot continues to thicken at Australand despite suitor Frasers Centrepoint securing a majority stake in the firm last week. Frasers currently holds about 60 per cent of Australand stock, but former suitor Stockland is yet to offload its 19.9 per cent stake and speculation is rife that Hong Kong’s Pacific Alliance Group is behind a rising 9 per cent stake. That leaves almost 30 per cent of the register potentially off-limits and may frustrate plans to delist the property group.

Meanwhile, Telstra is starting to tap into its war chest, spending $291m to raise its stake in US-based video streaming and analytics platform Ooyala. The telco has previously spent close to $70m to claim 23 per cent of Ooyala, with the latest buy leaving Telstra with 98 per cent of the firm, if regulators offer their consent. The cloud-based Ooyala platform provides media outlets with the ability to deliver content across any device, with ESPNNBC Universal and Foxtel among its list of clients.

Also in tech, South African-based Dimension Data has announced a $171m deal to buy ASX-listed consulting firm Oakton. The offer has received the backing of the target’s board, but it remains at the mercy of shareholders.

In infrastructure, State Grid Corporation of China is mulling a play for the highly sought after electricity network assets in New South Wales. According to The Australian Financial Review, the Chinese group is planning to team with a local firm, possibly AMP Capital or Queensland Investment Corporation, to enhance its chances in the $15bn-plus auction.

In the IPO market, ASX debutante Speedcast enjoyed a strong first day of trade on Tuesday. Stock in the satellite network services provider jumped almost 8 per cent to bring its market value close to $250m.

Meanwhile, IPO hopeful Urbanise has lifted the size of its planned float by a third. The cloud-based construction services firm will now raise $20m, up from $15m, after receiving strong demand from local and offshore investors. It will hit ASX boards on September 30 with a market value of over $100m.

In energy, Origin Energy has concluded the $650m acquisition of Karoon Gas’ 40 per cent stake in the Poseidon field off the coast of WA. It’s not the only action at the ASX-listed Karoon, with the firm also advising it has shortlisted three parties to farm-in to its valuable Brazilian acreage. The energy group is hoping to agree a deal to offload a 10-20 per cent stake.

Elsewhere, investors have turned cautious on Treasury Wine Estates, not convinced a significantly higher bid will eventuate after rival suitors KKR andTPG complete due diligence. Stock in TWE is now only just above the current conditional offers amid rising doubts the private equity suitors will engage in a bidding war.

Finally, Wotif.com has confirmed its $703m takeover by Expedia remains on track for a late October conclusion, while Spanish firm Acciona is mulling a $2bn-plus IPO of its renewable energy division in the US. Among the possible assets included in a float would be the Waubra and Cathedral Rocks wind farms.