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Asciano assets up for sale

In an update to the market, debt-ridden Asciano said it had received multiple expressions of interest from a range of industry and finance-sector parties. Asciano said its “monetisation” process now includes consideration of up to 100% sales of its coal or container ports business divisions and proposals for other assets and businesses of the group. Signalling a possible takeover, Asciano said proposals were received that would result in a change of control or a recapitalisation of the group. The company is aiming to announce a transaction by the end of the current financial year. Asciano had net debt of $A4.59 billion at the end of last year and hopes to cut debt by $1 billion by selling assets, with negotiations continuing. Former Citigroup financial analyst Sanjay Magotra has been widely credited for weakening Asciano’s share price through a shock report on November 11 when he slashed the target share price of the company from $6.08 to 82c. Magotra has since left Citigroup – and while it has been said the departure was voluntary, the timing also coincided with a round of job cuts at the investment major triggered by the global financial crisis.

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