Australia’s Leighton moots A$619.5 million deal with Ontario Teachers’

Australia’s Leighton Holdings Ltd says it has entered into exclusive negotiations with Canada’s Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (Teachers’) over the A$619.5 million ($638.4 million) sale of a 70% stake in its telecoms assets, which include Nextgen Networks, Metronode and Infoplex.

The Australian contractor, which is majority owned by Hochtief (Essen, Germany), has been looking to offload various assets to reduce its debts and had claimed in September that several parties were interested in acquiring its telecoms businesses.

Australia’s Leighton Holdings Ltd says it has entered into exclusive negotiations with Canada’s Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (Teachers’) over the A$619.5 million ($638.4 million) sale of a 70% stake in its telecoms assets, which include Nextgen Networks, Metronode and Infoplex.

The Australian contractor, which is majority owned by Hochtief (Essen, Germany), has been looking to offload various assets to reduce its debts and had claimed in September that several parties were interested in acquiring its telecoms businesses.

Teachers’ (Toronto, Canada) remains one of Canada’s largest pension funds with an investment portfolio of about C$117 million ($115 million).

“We have worked through an extensive sale process which elicited a range of interested parties,” said Hamish Tyrwhitt, the company’s chief executive, in a statement.

“We are very pleased to have reached an exclusive negotiating position with Teachers’, which is well known for its global direct investment program and is a significant owner of assets in a number of countries including Australia.”

Tyrwhitt said he looked forward to working with Teachers’ as a partner, and emphasized that cash holdings from any sale would be retained within the company to reduce its leverage.

The company has already been able to reduce its gearing to 35% at the end of December, from 46% six months earlier, and also completed the sale of Thiess Waste Management to Remondis (Lunen, Germany) in 2012.

Leighton (St Leonards, Australia) remains committed to providing construction, maintenance and field services to the telecoms industry through its Visionstream, Silcar (50% owned by Thiess) and John Holland Communications subsidiaries, says Tyrwhitt.

“The sale will enable us to continue to provide these services, which are core telecommunications competencies, to an active market,” he said.