Asciano buy-out looms


Asciano may soon switch hands, with reports a meeting is today being held to determine its future

By Samantha Freestone

Troubled rail operator Asciano may soon switch hands, with reports a meeting is today being held to determine the future of the debt-laden company.

It has been confirmed bid deadlines from past contenders TPG Capital and Asian energy and infrastructure companies passed on Friday, and Asciano’s board is discussing whether to agree to a deal.

Rumour first circulated late last week as stockbrokers watched Asciano’s shares soar, with prices closing at $AU1.54 yesterday, a 33.19 percent improvement.

Asciano spokeswoman Maria Festa has not commented on the possible move, saying it is not the company’s policy to do so.

But it has been reported a source close to the group confirmed speculation yesterday.

Only one month ago, the group’s share price hit an all-time low of 40 cents as it struggled with billions of dollars in debt stemming from its split with Toll Holdings.

TPG Capital first expressed interest in August last year when it, along with Global Infrastructure Partners, offered "an unsolicited takeover" of $4.40 per Asciano share.

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