The race for Australian logistics firm Asciano has gained a new player, with the US$250bn sovereign wealth fund of Qatar reportedly in discussions with Brookfield to potentially support the Canada/Bermuda-based fund’s bid.
Brookfield, the original group to approach Asciano in June, is said to be in talks with several major funds over the potential acquisition and break-up of the rail and ports business.
Macquarie Group and the Queensland Investment Corporation are among the names already mentioned in several media sources as potential partners for Brookfield in the deal.
But The Australian this week reported Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board, and the Qatar Investment Authority are also in early talks to potentially support Brookfield’s bid.
Brookfield, which owns WA rail owner Brookfield Rail and Queensland’s Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal, may have to break Asciano up into separate parts in a takeover bid, due to vertical integration concerns from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The ACCC was set to hand down a final decision on Brookfield’s bid this week, but that was changed when Brookfield submitted new structural undertakings to the authority with regards to a potential takeover.
Under the new plan, Brookfield would consider selling some or all of Pacific National – Asciano’s rail subsidiary – during the acquisition.
Pacific National represents almost two-thirds of Asciano’s revenue mix.
Brookfield’s complex bidding process has been further complicated by a rival offer from Australian logistics player Qube, which is supported by a pair of Canadian firms.
Qube’s bid is also subject to ACCC review, but this is considered to be less of a concern in Qube’s case.
Brookfield’s bid was strongly argued against to the ACCC by West Australian farmers groups, who raised concerns over the potential for Brookfield to own both the track – which it holds under a long term lease from the Australian Rail Track Corporation – and the trains – which it could potentially run if it owned Pacific National – on the network.