The troubled US pallet business operated by logistics firm Brambles secured a handful of new contracts in the March quarter, but new chief executive Graham Chipchase says competition remains fierce and demand from fast-moving consumer goods customers is softer than usual. The beaten-down Brambles share price climbed 5.9 per cent to $10.17 on Wednesday after a third-quarter trading update that Mr Chipchase described as ‘‘solid’’. Fund managers said there were still longer-term issues for Brambles to iron out in the US, as e-commerce giants such as Amazon reshape traditional logistics models, and the share price rise on Wednesday underlined that the company’s shares had been sold off too hard since January 23. That was when evidence of problems in the North American pallets business first publicly emerged.
Crown Resorts Limited (CWN)：
Packer’s Hollywood dream is over James Packer has spent the past year selling several assets, making his Crown Resorts shares now by far the biggest part of his portfolio. Yesterday it was announced Mr Packer is exiting Hollywood, selling his stake in RatPac Entertainment, the Los Angeles-based film, television and documentary business he created in 2013 with producer-director Brett Ratner. The RatPac sale was the latest in a string of deals that included the offloading of the Pretty Girl Fashion Group, Noni B shares and Crown’s stake in Macau casino business Melco Crown. There is speculation Mr Packer may be collecting the cash for either a renewed tilt at privatising Crown, a strategy he had previously pursued in late 2015, or is making further settlements with his sister Gretel, who struck a deal in early 2016 with him to gain control of some of the family assets.
Dexus Property Group (DXS):
Charter Hall Group is among the leading contenders to buy listed group Dexus’s Phillip Street tower in Parramatta for more than $220 million in a deal that is expected to reprice the western Sydney city’s office market. Following the close of second round bids for the 25,000 square metres, A-grade office space, leased to a government tenant for 12 years, a shortlist of three parties has been chosen.
Duet Group (DUE):
It’s two days until DUET Group shareholders will vote on a $3.03-a-share takeover bid for the company and a key piece of information is still missing. Bidder CK William Australia – owned by a bunch of entities in the Cheung Kong group of companies – is awaiting Foreign Investment Review Board approval, three months after shaking hands on a $7.5 billion deal and five months after first going to the agency. Normally, such an approval may not be a big issue. This time, though, DUET shareholders are dealing with a bidder that has been blocked at the FIRB as recently as last year. While DUET’s business and assets are different from NSW’s Ausgrid – where CKI was most recently blocked– it remains a key reason DUET shares are trading at about a 10 per cent discount to the offer price. Those in and around the deal point to all sorts of reasons for the delay: FIRB has a new chairman, there are a bunch of other deals also in front of the agency, politics and the like. Whatever the case, there is little either side can do about it, apart from wait. Street Talk wonders, though, whether there is something else.
Tabcorp Holdings Limited (TAH);Tatts Group Limited (TTS) :
Tatts Group is under pressure to open its books to a consortium of investors, including KKR and Morgan Stanley, which has offered $7.2 billion in cash for the wagering and gaming giant in a deal that threatens to scuttle a previously agreed mega-merger with Tabcorp. Tatts shareholders said they expected the revised takeover bid from the Pacific Consortium to trigger a bidding war for the company, although the two offers are now almost equivalent in value. The revised offer from the Pacific Consortium came four months after its earlier approach for Tatts was rejected last year. Tatts shares rose 1¢ to $4.36, higher than the consortium’s latest offer price of $4.21 per share, but below a 12-month high of $4.61 hit in January. It is believed the consortium has abandoned earlier plans to find a buyer for Tatts’ wagering arm, which it had hoped to sell to Tabcorp, and is now comfortable acquiring the entire UBet business even though it has struggled with competition from internationally owned corporate bookmakers and would need substantial investment. Tabcorp in March made the unusual move of withdrawing from the Australian Competition and Consumer Competition’s ‘‘informal’’ process to clear its proposed $11 billion merger with Tatts, and has instead taken its case straight to the Australian Competition Tribuna.