AustralianSuper launches $3.78 billion takeover bid for NZ's Infratil

SYDNEY/BENGALURU (Reuters) – Australia’s largest pension fund AustralianSuper made a $3.78 billion offer to buy New Zealand energy and transport infrastructure company Infratil, it said on Tuesday, potentially this year’s biggest acquisition in New Zealand.

The acquisition would give AustralianSuper control of Infratil’s assets in New Zealand and Australia, including stakes in a telephone company, an airport, renewable energy businesses, data centres, and wind farm firm Tilt Renewables.

The non-binding offer of NZ$7.43 a share represents a 22.2% premium to Infratil’s closing price in New Zealand on Monday, valuing the firm at NZ$5.37 billion ($3.78 billion). If successful, it would be the largest M&A deal in New Zealand this year, according to Refinitiv data.

“We see significant potential to invest in the growth of Infratil’s assets over the long term on behalf of AustralianSuper’s members, which allows us to provide significant value to Infratil shareholders today,” said Nik Kemp, AustralianSuper’s head of infrastructure.

The deal includes a cash consideration of NZ$5.79 per share and a distribution of 0.22 shares of Trustpower Ltd, in which Infratil is an investor, for each Infratil share, AustralianSuper said.

However, Infratil’s second-largest shareholder Fisher Funds, which holds a 4.5% stake, said the offer did not fully price the long-term growth prospects of the company.

“Infratil have grown their Net Asset Value at a compound annual growth rate of 15-20% for more than 20 years. So, simplistically, this bid is only bringing forward 1-2 years of value,” Sam Dickie, Fisher’s senior portfolio manager told Reuters.

“Given it is one of Fisher Funds’ largest positions … we see significant valuation upside.”

Infratil’s board has not said whether it supports the bid, instead requesting a trading halt of its shares until it can respond to AustralianSuper on Wednesday.

UBS analysts also said the premium for control “looks light”.

The takeover bid comes a day after Infratil said it would undertake a strategic review of its 65.5% stake in Tilt Renewables following a number of approaches from interested parties amid strong demand for green energy assets globally.

($1 = 1.4225 New Zealand dollars)

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