* PCCW interested in the data businesses-sources
* Bidders to submit proposals in early Feb-sources
By Stephen Aldred and Lee Chyen Yee
HONG KONG, Jan 28 Giant Canadian pension fund
Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan has emerged as a final-round
bidder for the fibre-optics business of Leighton Holdings Ltd
, according to sources with knowledge of the matter, a
business that analysts have said could fetch as much as A$870
million ($908.15 million).
The $117.1 billion Teachers', Canada's largest
single-profession pension plan, is lining up against Australia's
TPG Telecom Ltd to bid for Leighton's NextGen business,
the sources said.
Hong Kong telecommunications company PCCW Ltd is
also preparing a bid of around $300 million for two smaller data
businesses, Metronode and Infoplex, two separate sources said.
Leighton, controlled by Spain's ACS, is selling the
intercity fibre-optic business, known as NextGen, and the
Metronode and Infoplex data businesses, to pay down debt.
Australia's largest construction company, Leighton has been
plagued by losses from the delayed construction of a water
desalination plant in the state of Victoria and a road link to
Brisbane airport in Queensland state which opened in July,
months behind schedule.
Earlier private equity interest in the assets is waning, the
sources said, with KKR & Co L.P. dropping its bid
altogether and rival U.S. private equity firm Providence Equity
Partners not likely to place a final bid.
Bidders are currently working on a Feb. 9 deadline, two of
the sources said.
Along with many Western pension plans, Teachers' is actively
seeking opportunities for direct investments to increase its
share of profits as it faces the need to provide pensions for
ageing populations. Teachers' administers the pensions of
300,000 active and retired teachers in Ontario.
Teachers' senior vice president for global infrastructure,
Stephen Down, recently told The Australian newspaper that
Australia was a "really great market to invest in", citing its
regulatory regime and openness to foreign direct investment.
Last year, Teachers' acquired a 9.9 percent stake in South
Korea's Kyobo Life for around $400 million, and
before that, with Hastings Funds Management, signed a A$2.3
billion ($2.35 billion) deal on the long-term lease of the
Sydney Desalination Plant with Australia's New South Wales
The pension firm plans to open its first Asia office this
year in Hong Kong with as many as 10 staff.
Officials with KKR, PCCW, Providence and Teachers' declined
to comment. Officials with TPG Telecom and Leighton Holdings
could not be reached for comment. The sources could not be named
as the process was confidential.