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Australian logistics giant Asciano backs Qube takeover bid
[SYDNEY] Australian ports and rail operator Asciano on Tuesday recommended shareholders accept a US$6.3 billion takeover bid by a consortium including a Chinese sovereign wealth fund, leaving rival suitor Canadian asset manager Brookfield out in the cold.
Australian-led Qube Holdings - including China's CIC Capital Corporation, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and investment group Global Infrastructure Partners - submitted a revised offer this month with an implied value of A$9.17 per Asciano share.
That valued the bid at almost A$9.0 billion.
The move was a direct challenge to an earlier, inferior bid by Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, which has been chasing Asciano since July.
Brookfield's initial approach last year came during a flurry of acquisitions in Australia's transport sector - including Japan Post Holdings' purchase of Toll Holdings - as the local dollar weakened and the nation's conservative government pushed for infrastructure spending.
The Canadian asset manager had until Monday to match or beat Qube's offer with Asciano, which handles nearly half of all container traffic entering or leaving Australia, switching preference after Brookfield failed to submit a revised bid.
"The Asciano board has determined that the Qube consortium proposal is superior to the proposal from Brookfield," the company said in a market announcement.
"The board unanimously recommends the Qube consortium proposal to shareholders." Asciano specialises in bulk and container shipping and transportation, with port and train operations across Australia, and Qube, a diversified logistics and infrastructure company, said the acquisition would be "transformational".
"The combination creates significant opportunities for productivity improvement and innovation across the Australian logistics and transportation sector, delivering substantial value for Qube shareholders as well as the broader logistics chain," it said.
Asciano shares were 0.2 per cent higher at A$8.92 early Monday.