AusNet Services Ltd. on Tuesday reported a non-binding takeover bid of A$2.60 ($1.89) per share by Sydney-based energy company APA Group, a day after the Australian stock exchange-listed electricity and gas network company granted Brookfield Asset Management a period of exclusive due diligence on the basis of a A$2.50 per share bid.
AusNet's stock price jumped 19% Monday to A$2.36 after the company announced in a stock exchange filing that Brookfield had made a non-binding offer of A$2.50, up from an initial offer of A$2.35 on Aug. 30 and a subsequent bid of A$2.45.
AusNet said the company "has decided to provide Brookfield with the opportunity to conduct due diligence on an exclusive basis to enable it to put forward a binding offer," adding that the board's current intention is to recommend shareholders vote in favor of the proposal — which amounts to A$9.6 billion in cash — "in the absence of a superior proposal."
APA Group, in a stock exchange filing Tuesday, expressed disappointment that AusNet granted Brookfield eight weeks of exclusive due diligence despite APA's having made AusNet aware on Sept. 16 that APA was moving to boost the initial offer price of A$2.32 per share — via a combination of cash and APA shares — the company made on Sept. 1.
AusNet confirmed that it had received APA's second bid, saying it will "consider the APA Revised Indicative Proposal and has the ability to engage with APA following completion of the exclusivity period" with Brookfield.
In Tuesday trading, AusNet's shares rose just less than 10% to A$2.59.
AusNet, with just under A$11 billion of electricity and gas network assets in the Australian state of Victoria, is 32.3% owned by Singapore Power, 19.9% owned by State Grid of China, with around 48% publicly owned, according to the firm's website.