Brookfield launches $ 7 billion takeover bid for Australian energy group AusNet
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Brookfield Asset Management, the Canadian alternative asset manager, made an Australian $ 9.6 billion (US $ 7 billion) takeover bid for Australian energy group AusNet Services, as global investment groups sued their sweeping of the country’s infrastructure.
AusNet said on Monday it had received an unsolicited offer of AU $ 2.50 per share, which represents a 26% premium on its closing price on Friday. The softened opening followed two previous proposals in August of A $ 2.35 and A $ 2.45 per share.
The deal would see Brookfield buy out AusNet in its entirety, buying out its two largest shareholders, the state-backed groups Singapore Power and China State Grid.
AusNet, which operates the electricity transmission system in the state of Victoria, said it would allow Brookfield to exercise due diligence on an exclusive basis, and that it considers the agreement to be “in the best interests ”of its shareholders and would recommend it unanimously. .
AusNet shares listed in Sydney rose 20% on Monday.
Global investment groups have made a series of offers for Australian infrastructure in recent months, with attempted acquisitions for the country’s highways, power grids and airports totaling at least $ 36 billion, the data shows. by Dealogic.
A consortium led by U.S. private equity group KKR struck a $ 3.7 billion deal in August to buy Spark Infrastructure, which owns stakes in power grids in Victoria and South Australia, while the board Sydney Airport Authority this month accepted an offer from Melbourne-based IFM investors. .
AusNet’s proposed takeover would also end a Chinese state-backed investment in a major Australian infrastructure group at a time of heightened tensions between countries over trade and investment.
Any deal would be put to a shareholder vote, which means it would have to be approved by at least one of the major shareholders, Singapore Power and China State Grid, who hold 32.2% and 19.9% of the shares, respectively.
AusNet said it had tied the terms of the offer to the two companies, but noted that there was “no certainty” that granting access to Brookfield would result in a deal, which would also be subject to the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board approval.
The energy company said in a statement that it has an asset base of more than A $ 11 billion “as the owner and operator of 100% of its assets”, and that it is “ideally positioned for growth ”as Australia shifts to low carbon energy. sources.
Brookfield declined to comment while the deal was pending. AusNet did not provide further comments for the same reason.
AusNet’s financial advisers are Adara Partners and Citigroup, and its legal advisers are Allens.
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