Is that all there is? Gee, you’d love to have the board of rail and port group Asciano and its advisers on the other side of a price negotiation after their effort in extracting a whole 10 cents a share extra from Canadian bidder Brookfield Infrastructure. Overnight, Brookfield said it would acquire Asciano with a $12 billion bid made up of A$6.94 in cash and 0.0387 Brookfield Infrastructure Ltd partnership units for each Asciano share. The offer has an implied value of A$9.15, a 13% premium to Asciano’s last traded price. The offer is also higher than Brookfield’s previous bid, which had an implied value of A$9.05 per share. That’s right, a whole 10 cents. Asciano shareholders will feel comforted (and a whole lot richer) by that effort. -- Glenn Dyer
Aurizon next? With Asciano on the way to being swallowed by a foreigner, will rail group Aurizon be next? It warned yesterday of flat volumes for coal being shifted by rail, and lower volumes for its WA iron ore business in the 2015-16 financial year. The wider economy is growing fitfully, so ordinary freight volumes will be uninspiring. In fact, the annual results yesterday gave no cheer for shareholders about the 2015-16 year. The company’s board and managers are paying out virtually all the profit as dividends to keep restive shareholders quiet. The company raised its dividend payout ratio to 70-100% of net profits after tax, and boosted the final dividend to 13.9 cents a share compared with 8.5 cents a year earlier. This takes the full-year dividend to 24 cents a share, up 45% on 2013-14 when a total of 16.5 cents was paid. The 2014-15 dividend was a payout ratio for the full year of 84% and 100% in the six months to June.