Rival companies Qube and Brookfield Infrastructure have begun talks over a joint AU$9bn (US$6.5bn) takeover of Asciano following a bidding war over the last few months.
Under the new plan, Australian company Qube would acquire the Patrick Container Terminals Business in 50/50 joint venture with Brookfield and other members of the Brookfield consortium for AU$2.9bn (US$2.1bn).
A Qube consortium including Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and CIC Capital Corporation (CIC Capital) had been named Asciano’s preferred bid last week.
However, Canadian firm Brookfield was thought to be close to tabling another bid in partnership with the Qatar Investment Authority and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board.
“The discussions remain indicative, preliminary and non-binding and there is no agreement, arrangement or understanding between the parties at this stage,” noted a statement by Qube.
Qube managing director Maurice James, said: “Asciano shareholders would receive cash for their company, Qube would add container terminals to its business and partner with a major infrastructure player and the consortia investors would obtain exposure to world class rail and port infrastructure.”
“Brookfield Infrastructure is on-board with implementing initiatives to improve operational efficiency and financial performance at the Patrick Container Terminals Business.”
Under the new proposal, Brookfield Infrastructure and members of the Brookfield Consortium would acquire the Bulk & Automotive Ports Services businesses including the 50% interest in Australian Amalgamated Terminals (AAT) and related shareholder loans.
Qube would have an option to subsequently acquire from Brookfield Infrastructure the 50% interest in AAT, subject to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) clearance.
GIP, CPPIB, CIC and certain members of the Brookfield Consortium other than Brookfield Infrastructure would acquire the Pacific National rail business.