By MAL GILL
AN $8.9 billion Brookfield bid for ports and logistics operator Asciano, which owns the Pacific National (PN) rail business, expired last Thursday.
The NSW Supreme Court has ruled a meeting of Asciano shareholders, due to consider the Brookfield takeover bid, not be held and legal proceedings in relation to the bid be dismissed.
Asciano's board has advised shareholders, who agreed to sell shares to Brookfield, that sale contracts are "void" and their shares will be returned to them automatically.
Likewise, new board election forms signed under the Brookfield bid scheme "will be of no effect", the Asciano board said.
Brookfield held about 20 per cent of Asciano's shares, a technicality which legally prevented it from expanding its consortium and matching a counter bid for Asciano by a rival consortium headed by Qube Holdings.
Earlier last week the Brookfield consortium, headed by Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (BIP) which owns Brookfield Rail in WA, earned an $88 million break fee from Asciano when its directors switched allegiance to the Qube consortium bid.
However, expiry last Thursday of the takeover scheme implementation deed signed on August 17 between BIP and the Asciano board and amended on November 9, is not the end of Brookfield's interest.
Now that bid has lapsed, Brookfield and new consortium partners are free to make a further offer to Asciano shareholders.
The original Brookfield consortium comprised wholly-owned subsidiary companies with the formal off-stock market scheme put forward by Nitro Holdings, valuing Asciano shares about $8.79 each.
Canadian institutional investor British Columbia Investment Management Corporation and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC have since joined the Brookfield consortium.
p CBH Group triggers arbitration in rail dispute, see page 11, Section 2.