DataRoom AM: Woodside blow-up?

Israel's government may hold a Leviathan deal-breaker, while Qantas hangs on Senate tenterhooks.

The heavily spruiked Woodside Petroleum entry into the Leviathan gas field in Israel should be just three weeks from being finalised, yet it is starting to look further away than ever before.

Elsewhere, a Qantas Sale Act repeal is teasingly close - or perhaps not - for the national carrier, Carsales.com presses on with its Asian expansion, BlueScope Steel gets the all-clear for its purchase of an Arrium subsidiary and AngloGold kills off expectations of an ASX listing.

Woodside Petroleum’s $2.85 billion Leviathan deal may be nearing collapse. Woodside first announced the deal in December 2012 and after raising the price in an updated non-binding deal last month, is supposed to be just three weeks away from finalising its 25 per cent stake. But, according to Israeli business news service Globes, the Israeli Treasury has recommended the nation’s government levy a higher gas export tax than Woodside is seeking.

The tax issue has been holding up the deal and should Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agree with Treasury, it could be a dealbreaker.

Qantas Airways has seen changes to the Qantas Sale Act clear the House, but the seemingly impossible challenge of passing through the Senate is still ahead. It’s increasingly difficult to see any government support coming in the next six months without a severe deterioration in the company’s finances.

Carsales.com didn’t take long to come good on a promise earlier this week to pursue offshore acquisitions, sealing a $126 million deal to claim a 49.9 per cent position in South Korean online car classifieds business SK Encar. The company said further purchases are unlikely in the near term.

Meanwhile, Echo Entertainment is chasing a joint venture partner for its $1bn-plus refurbishment of Treasury Casino in Brisbane, according to The Australian Financial Review. The report lists Hong Kong and Chinese companies as likely partners, along with renowned names in the hotel sector including The InterContinental and The Four Seasons.

Also looking at hotels are rich listers Arthur Laundy and Theo Karedis, who will team up on a bid for the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, according to the AFR. The pair will meet stiff opposition in the chase for the $200m asset, however.

In the IPO market, Beacon Lighting continues to edge toward an IPO that will value the group at $142m, with a roadshow underway this week. According to Fairfax Media, Wesfarmers and Woolworths are seen as potential suitors in the long-term, amid reports the Wesfarmers-owned Bunnings has been mulling a takeover play for Beacon over the past couple of years.

Meanwhile, plans for AngloGold to spin off its Australian assets through an IPO are off the agenda. The company tested the waters in 2012, but yesterday current CEO Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan said a demerger was no longer under consideration, according to the Wall Street Journal.