MIRA looks like it will be spoilt for choice when indicative bids are lodged later this month for its 50.01% stake in Hobart Airport, with IFM Investors and Infrastructure Capital Group joining the fray.
ICG has engaged Jefferies as financial adviser, while IFM has Morgan Stanley on board, according to three sources familiar.
However the sources said another that was rumoured to be taking a look at the opportunity, Morrison & Co, is not going ahead. AMP Capital is another that was interested early on that has dropped out, as reported.
The lineup is impressive given Hobart Airport is relatively small for an Australian capital city – total EBITDA stood at around AUD 33m (USD 23m) as of 30 June 2018. Some suggested it reflects the lack of infrastructure assets up for sale in the country at the moment.
A larger slice of the airport may come up for sale, with the other shareholder Tasplan mulling a sell-down of some of its shareholding. Advised by Ironstone, the super fund will make a call on whether to sell after indicative bids are handed in.
In addition, the airport is subject to a 49% cap on foreign ownership, which may make it difficult for larger offshore buyers, unless they are prepared to take a minority interest alongside a local partner.
As reported, other bidders that have signed up advisers include:
– Shiphol Group, advised by Lazard;
– Vinci, with Rothschild
– UniSuper, with Macquarie Capital; and
– QIC, advised by UBS.
Spanish construction giant Ferrovial and Japanese trading house Orix are another two that have shown interest, but it is not known whether they have appointed advisers.
Indicative bids are due by 24 July with final bids due at the end of September, as reported.
IFM is a shareholder in the nearby Launceston airport through its 25.17% shareholding in Australia Pacific Airports Corporation. Some have speculated the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission may take issue with a bidder owning another airport in the island state of Tasmania.
ICG and IFM declined to comment.