Brookfield Commits to Sale of Asciano Assets, Regulator Says

  • Offers to sell freight service and bulk rail operation
  • Competition watchdog decision on proposal expected by Feb. 18

Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management Inc. has pledged to sell some assets to gain clearance from Australia’s competition watchdog for its A$9 billion ($6.5 billion) proposed acquisition of rail and port operator Asciano Ltd.

Brookfield, in a revised proposal, would sell an interstate freight service and bulk rail operations in Western Australia and ensure independent operation of its Dalrymple coal terminal, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission said in a statement Tuesday. The ACCC will consult market participants on the new undertaking and will rule on the proposal by Feb. 18, it said.

The new undertakings are the latest twist in the battle for control of Asciano, which is also fielding a competing offer from a group led by Qube Holdings Ltd. Brookfield’s latest proposal is the second since the regulator raised concerns over the transaction in October. ACCC rejected on Nov. 26 the first plan, which only offered so-called behavioral undertakings to ensure competition wasn’t diminished.

The ACCC’s decision to consult on Brookfield’s latest proposal “should not be interpreted to mean that these or any other form of undertakings will ultimately be accepted,” the watchdog said in the statement. Market consultations are open till Jan. 22.

The acquisition announced in August would give Brookfield control of the Pacific National rail business and the Patrick stevedoring businesses at ports in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

The indicative decision date for the ACCC’s review of the Brookfield proposed acquisition is currently the same as the current published decision date for the rival offer by the group led by Qube, the regulator said.

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