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Capital Markets

Australia: Qantas private equity deal gets mixed reception

The acceptance by Qantas’s board of an A$11.1 billion (US$8.7 billion) bid for the Australian airline cements private equity’s place in the country’s mainstream, despite a growing sense of unease among the public and some thorny remarks from senior bankers.

Australian private equity had already had a landmark year in 2006 even before the Qantas bid was accepted. If that deal goes through, A$22 billion will have been committed to venture capital deals for Australian assets in 2006, compared with A$2 billion the previous year – and the figure would have been much higher had an A$18 billion bid by a Kohlberg Kravis Roberts consortium for supermarket chain Coles gone through. (Instead, Coles twice refused the consortium even the right to do due diligence.) Department store Myer has gone to Newbridge for A$1.4 billion; the media assets of the Packer family’s company, PBL, including the influential TV station Channel Nine and a host of newsstand magazines, have gone to a venture half owned by CVC Asia Pacific in a A$5.5 billion deal; and CVC has also bought aged-care and radiology group DCA Group for A$2.7 billion.

Iconic brand

Qantas, though, is a deal apart. Australia has no more iconic company.

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