Michael Pascoe writes:

Just about now, Paul Little might be
wishing he had never heard of Patrick Corporation. And just about
now, he’s probably talking to lawyers about just what Macquarie Bank is up to.

Macquarie’s statement this morning
that it is trying to put together a consortium to make a higher cash offer for
Patrick is not a takeover bid. They’re just thinking about it. The
conditionality of the announcement is dubious.

It’s enough though to have the wires
humming, AAP for example, and the market has certainly moved – Macquarie up $1.08 at midday to $70.59,
Patrick ahead 29 cents to $8.99 and Toll down 73 cents to $13.04.

This while some punters would have been
still looking at another ad in the fish wrappers this morning by Toll asking
Patrick shareholders to please accept the now agreed bid. Patrick itself is saying extremely little:

“Patrick Corporation advises that it has
not received an offer from Macquarie Bank. Patrick confirms that Macquarie
Bank has sought to engage the company in
discussions regarding a possible competing proposal to the Toll bid. Patrick
advised Macquarie of the terms of its co-operation deed with Toll as summarised by
Toll in its ninth bidder’s statement including not to solicit an offer.”

So there are two mysteries: How can MacBank do a serious job of knowing what
it’s bidding for without talking to Patrick; and how can MacBank justify a
higher cash price for Patrick when the market has been wondering just how Toll
will make its paper-and-cash offer pay.

There wouldn’t be anyone related to this
whole saga being mischievous on the sidelines, would there?

The game kicked off in the AFR this
morning. The paper speculated that
“potential partners” in a Macquarie-led bid could be Singapore’s
PSA International, Hong Kong’s Hutchison Port Holdings or Dubai Ports World.

Hopefully the story is better sourced than
the speculation – Dubai has already bought Australia’s
other stevedore.

Peter Fray

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