McAleese persists with float despite Cootes crash

The Mark Rowsthorn-chaired McAleese Transport has renewed attempts to raise $166 million from large investors over the weekend despite it still dealing with the fallout from a fatal fuel-tanker crash.

The Mark Rowsthorn-chaired McAleese Transport has renewed attempts to raise $166 million from large investors over the weekend despite it still dealing with the fallout from a fatal fuel-tanker crash.

A month after McAleese postponed plans to float the business, brokers began attempting to sell 113.1 million new shares in McAleese to institutional investors at $1.47 apiece on Friday. The latest offer is at an 11 per cent discount to the $1.65 a share McAleese was priced at in a preliminary prospectus circulated last month.

However, new shareholders will not be laboured with the potential liability from the accident last month, and the subsequent grounding of 89 tankers in its oil-hauling business, Cootes Transport, in NSW and Victoria.

In the wake of a raft of initial public offerings, the transport company appears keen to test the market now while conditions remain favourable rather than take a risk in waiting until after Christmas.

McAleese will begin trading on the ASX on December 2 with a market capitalisation of $421 million. More than half the company will remain in the hands of its existing owners, including Mr Rowsthorn.

While the crash will weigh on the company's public profile, fund managers emphasised McAleese's strong management team. Mr Rowsthorn has poached executives from the ports and rail company Asciano, where he was chief executive until early 2011.

Wilson Asset Management's Geoff Wilson said his firm would look to become shareholders in McAleese because it had an "extremely competent management", and was a "leverage play in an improving economy".

Mr Wilson said the impact of the crash was likely to be a short-term hit on McAleese's profit but "it doesn't inhibit the potential growth outlook" for the transport company.

Two people were killed and five injured early last month when one of Cootes' fuel tankers crashed on Sydney's northern beaches. The cause of the accident is not expected to be known for weeks.

The institutional book-build closes Monday, while McAleese's prospectus will be out later in the week.

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