SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia plans to give its foreign investment regulator sweeping new powers to intervene in all takeovers from overseas interests regardless of dollar value, citing security concerns.
The changes could affect a hefty pipeline of cross-border deals that are either in progress or the subject of market speculation:
DEALS IN PLAY:
Virgin Australia - the country’s No. 2 airline is being sold by administrators. Frontrunners are down to U.S. private equity firms Bain Capital and Cyrus Capital
Healius - Australia’s medical and imaging centre chain is selling its medical centers division. China’s Jangho owns 15% of the company and suitors named in media reports include Hong Kong-based KKR, PAG, along with Australia’s BGH Capital
QCLNG - Royal Dutch Shell is weighing the potential $3 billion sale of its 26.25% stake in Queensland Curtis LNG, which is expected to fetch more than A$2 billion. No frontrunners have been named.
Infigen - the wind farm company this week rejected an unsolicited bid of $536 million from Philippines firm UAC
Tianqui - the Chinese lithium producer may sell a stake in an Australian project due to financial problems
Treasury Wine’s Penfolds - the wine conglomerate has said it wants to spin off its most prestigious label in 2021. No deal structure has been disclosed. China is Treasury’s biggest market.
POTENTIAL FUTURE DEALS:
Vocus - the telco has been fending off M&A approaches, including a A$3 billion offer from AGL, following share price underperformance in recent years,
Westpac Banking Corp’s life insurance unit - the bank is considering selling the unit as part of an industry-wide simplification drive. The unit is widely seen as attractive to Asian financial entities looking abroad.
National Australia Bank wealth unit - the bank has been trying to offload MLC for several years, but said late last year it was considering an ASX listing instead.
Crown Resorts - Hong Kong casino giant Melco Resorts bought 9.99% of its Australian rival from founder James Packer, sending its shares higher on hopes of a full takeover before Melco froze the plan due to the coronavirus shutdown
Afterpay - China’s Tencent Holdings bought a 5% stake of the Australian buy-now-pay-later company, sending its shares rocketing partly because of speculation it might lead to a bigger stake.
($1 = 1.4351 Australian dollars)
Reporting by Byron Kaye, Paulina Duran and Scott Murdoch; editing by Jane Wardell
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