Australia’s Link to consider Carlyle’s fresh $2.1 billion bid, shares soar

(Reuters) – Australia’s Link Administration said on Friday it would consider a fresh attempt by Carlyle Group to buy the shareholder registry firm for A$2.81 billion ($2.08 billion), sending its shares soaring more than 12%.

This is Carlyle’s second attempt at buying the Sydney-based company after pursuing Link with Pacific Equity Partners late last year. The private-equity duo sweetened their bid and got access to Link’s books as well, but bowed out earlier this year.

At the heart of a flurry of interest in the past year for Link has been its stake in online conveyancing firm PEXA Group, which listed on the Australian stock market in July.

An unprecedented amount of fiscal spending and low interest rates have contributed to a red-hot Australian housing market that has seen home prices climb by more than a fifth this year through October.

Carlyle’s latest play includes a A$3 per share bid in cash and a distribution of Link’s stake in PEXA worth A$2.38 a share, the Australian company said.

In total, Carlyle values Link at A$5.38 per share, a 24.2% premium to its closing price on Thursday. The U.S. private-equity firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shares of Link climbed 12.5% in early trade to A$4.87, their sharpest rise since December 2020.

Link has appointed Macquarie Capital and UBS as advisers, and put off its share buyback plans after having purchased A$101.7 million of the target A$150 million.

($1 = 1.3514 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Savyata Mishra and Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath, Arun Koyyur and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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