TPG Awaits Asciano Results Before Deciding on Bid


Private equity group TPG plans to study Asciano's full-year results on Wednesday before deciding what to do about its A$2.9 billion ($2.7 billion) takeover approach, which the Australian port and rail operator has rebuffed.

"With the results tomorrow there is no hurry," a source close to the deal said on Tuesday. TPG and Global Infrastructure Partners made a preliminary offer of A$4.40 a share in cash on Monday, conditional on successful due diligence.

Asciano said the offer was too low and refused to open its books to the private equity groups.

Investors were clearly expecting a higher offer to emerge, sending Asciano shares up 3.1 percent to A$4.98, defying a 2.1 percent fall in the broader market.

The key question that had been hurting Asciano's share price prior to the takeover proposal was how it planned to fund its growth plans, such as expanding into Queensland coal haulage, and reduce debt.

The company said last month it would consider selling some assets, so investors will be looking for an update on that review.

"While we believe the business is in no immediate need of fresh capital, we would not rule out a partial sale of the business or equity issuance to reduce gearing," UBS analysts Simon Mitchell and Ramoun Lazar said in a research note.

Austock Securities analyst Andrew Chambers warned that the company might cut its distributions sharply to help fund growth. 

UBS said Asciano's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) before one-offs were likely to come in at the upper end of the company's forecast range between A$650 million and A$660 million, based on stronger growth than expected in port and rail volumes.

Macquarie Group is advising the private equity groups, while JP Morgan is reported to be advising Asciano.