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Qube Holdings Ltd shares surge on Asciano Ltd acquisition approval


The share price of Qube Holdings Ltd (ASX: QUB) was up by over 5% today after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced it would not oppose the $9 billion buyout of Asciano Ltd (ASX: AIO) by a consortium of companies from Australia, Canada, Qatar, and China.

This now paves the way for Asciano’s port and rail freight assets to be broken up and acquired by the consortium led by Canada’s Brookfield Infrastructure. Qube Holdings will receive Asciano’s Patrick Container Terminals business in a 50:50 joint venture.

It is worth pointing out that the process is still not quite finished and must gain approval from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board. But the fact that the deal sees Asciano’s strategically important ports stay out of Chinese hands means it may now be a formality according to Reuters.

I believe today’s announcement is great news for Qube Holdings shareholders who had no doubt been wondering if the deal would ever get approved. The ACCC had previously been concerned that it would give too much control of the freight market to Asciano’s new owners.

But according to ACCC Chairman Rod Sims, he found there to be no proof of any substantial lessening of competition in the market. In the release he stated that: “The ACCC conducted extensive inquiries with a large number of industry participants. A broad range of issues were raised across different aspects of the supply chain. After careful consideration, the ACCC has concluded there is not likely to be a substantial lessening of competition in any market.”

The acquisition for the Patrick Container Terminals business is likely to be a big boost for Qube Holdings, so it comes as no surprise to see the share price jump higher on this news. Management has previously stated that it expects the transaction to be transformational for the company with significant benefits expected, including the realisation of synergies.

At 25x trailing earnings, Qube Holdings shares don’t come cheap compared to the rest of the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO). But the deal will undoubtedly make it a stronger company in my opinion, which could make it worthy of a long-term investment. But personally I would suggest holding off until it has been fully approved.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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