Australia's Asciano shareholders vote for $6.6 bln Brookfield buyout

Thu Jun 2, 2016 10:32pm EDT
 
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SYDNEY, June 3 (Reuters) - Shareholders of Australian ports and rail freight giant Asciano Ltd voted for a A$9.1 billion ($6.6 billion) buyout by a global consortium led by Canada's Brookfield Asset Management Inc, leaving the company's future in the hands of regulators.

The vote was widely expected to succeed since Brookfield and its co-bidders own about half of Asciano's shares and the target endorsed the offer, but the unanimous result has formally left it to Australia's foreign investment and antitrust watchdogs to decide on the deal.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission last week said it was concerned the takeover would give Brookfield's Australian bid partner, Stevedoring Company Qube Holdings Ltd , too much control over the trucking market.

The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) has paused its deliberations until after a July 2 general election.

In another speedbump, trucking company Australian Container Freight Services Pty Ltd, which is half-owned by Asciano, has started court proceedings seeking a formal assurance regarding its future once the deal goes through.

Asciano is fighting the action, which is unresolved.

The deal would also require court approval.

In a speech before the vote in Sydney, Asciano Chairman Malcolm Broomhead said he now expects the deal to be finalised on Aug. 19 to allow time for the regulatory and legal hurdles to be cleared.

When Asciano first announced Brookfield planned to buy the company in mid-2015, it had said it expected the deal to be completed by the end of the year.   Continued...