Qube Consortium Makes A$9 Billion Counteroffer for Asciano

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Qube Holdings Ltd. and its partners made a counteroffer to acquire Asciano Ltd. that values the Australian rail and port operator at about A$9 billion ($6.3 billion).

Qube, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and New York-based Global Infrastructure Partners offered the equivalent of A$9.25 a share in cash and stock, Asciano said Tuesday in a statement. That’s 6 percent more than the target’s last closing price and is 3 cents a share higher than a rival offer by Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management Inc.

Asciano said it’s considering the proposal, though its board continues to recommend Brookfield’s offer, which is the biggest foreign takeover proposal in Australia this year.

“These are assets that both groups obviously want, and want badly,” Evan Lucas, a markets strategist at IG Ltd. in Melbourne, said by phone. “This could also mean that Brookfield comes back with a higher bid.”

Brookfield in August agreed to buy Asciano for cash and stock through its Brookfield Infrastructure Partners arm to gain control of the Pacific National rail business and the Patrick stevedoring businesses at ports in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The offer, which needs approval from the competition regulator, had an implied value of about A$9.15 a share when it was announced, or A$9.22 as of Monday.

CPPIB, Canada’s largest pension fund, and Global Infrastructure Partners teamed up with Qube last month to take a 19.99 percent stake in Asciano, with the group saying it intended to vote against Brookfield’s offer.

“The consortium’s proposal provides Asciano shareholders with a greater likelihood of actually realizing a premium for their investment,” the Qube group wrote in a letter to the target. That’s because Australia’s competition regulator has raised concerns over Brookfield’s ownership of Pacific National, Qube said.

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