In an ASX filing on Monday, AusNet Services acknowledged the receipt of a third indicative, non-binding and conditional takeover bid from Brookfield with a slightly higher price per share of $2.50, prompting the energy provider to open up its books.
Brookfield has earlier pledged to pay $2.35 per share and $2.45 per share, but was not successful.
The current indicative offer represents a premium of 26 per cent of AusNet’s closing value on 17 September ($1.98) and is subject to a number of conditions, including a thorough due diligence, FIRB approval, unanimous support and recommendation by AusNet’s board in addition to an execution of a scheme implementation deed.
“Following careful consideration, and consultation with its advisers, the board of AusNet considers it is in the best interests of AusNet’s shareholders to engage further with Brookfield on the indicative proposal,” Naomi Kelly, AusNet company secretary, said in the company’s announcement to the ASX.
“Accordingly, AusNet 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.”
The statement confirmed that the two firms have entered a confidential deed, allowing Brookfield to perform exclusive due diligence alongside providing a facility for the two parties to negotiate a scheme implementation deed.
AusNet has recommended that shareholders vote in favour of the proposal should Brookfield progress to a firm offer and lock in the price of $2.50 per share.
The company also used the announcement to highlight that should the agreement not proceed, the firm has strong stand-alone growth prospects it can also choose to pursue.
“As the owner and operator of 100 per cent of its assets, AusNet has a diversified portfolio with a regulated and contracted asset base of over $1 billion,” Ms Kelly noted.
“As the incumbent primary Victorian Transmission network owner, AusNet is uniquely positioned for growth as the energy transition accelerates driven by decarbonisation.”
AusNet is taking guidance from Adara Partners, alongside Citi, as financial advisers, while Allens is providing legal support.