Asciano Ltd shares soar on Qube Holdings Ltd takeover bid

Asciano Ltd (ASX:AIO) has today attracted a binding acquisition proposal from a consortium led by peer Qube Holdings Ltd (ASX:QUB).

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What: The share price of rail freight, port and logistics group Asciano Ltd (ASX: AIO) has leapt over 3% higher on Thursday after receiving a binding proposal by a consortium led by Qube Holdings Ltd (ASX: QUB) to acquire the company.

So What: Back in November on the tail of an acquisition offer from the US-based and NYSE-listed Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (BIP), the ‘Qube consortium” made a non-binding proposal with an implied value of $9.25 per Asciano share.

This proposal came after the consortium undertook a swift raid of the share register which saw the consortium emerge with a 19.99% stake in Asciano in late October.

That proposal has now progressed to a binding proposal to acquire Asciano with an implied value between $9.08 and $9.17.

Now What: According to Qube’s market announcement, its proposal is superior to Brookfield’s, which it says currently has an implied value of $8.77 per Asciano share.

While both offers include an element of cash, there is also an equity component which makes the decision less straight forward for Asciano’s shareholders.

One consideration shareholders will need to take into account is Qube’s estimate that it can achieve synergies of between $30 million to $50 million per annum from combining the two Ports businesses. This in turn is expected to drive double-digit earnings per share accretion which could be a reason to favour the Qube bid as Asciano shareholders will receive a portion of their consideration in Qube shares, thereby allowing them to participate in this potential upside.

Alternatively, the BIP proposal would see Asciano’s shareholders receiving a portion of their consideration in BIP shares. BIP owns and operates utilities, transport and energy businesses around the globe which could prove appealing to some Australian investors keen to increase their exposure to global infrastructure assets.

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