Australia’s Spark Infrastructure on Thursday rejected a A$4.91 billion ($3.67 billion) takeover bid by a consortium that included private equity giant KKR & Co but left open the door to some engagement, sending shares soaring more than 7%.
Spark said the A$2.80 per-share offer was the second made by KKR and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, topping up their initial one by 10 cents, both of which had not been made public before and were seen as too low.
Shares of the Australian infrastructure firm jumped as much as 7.5% to A$2.665, their highest in more than three years but still shy of the second offer, which was at a near 13% premium to Spark‘s last traded price on Wednesday.
Spark agreed to provide “limited” information on its business and prospects, but not due diligence, to the consortium once a confidentiality agreement is reached.
KKR and the Canadian pension fund did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
The bid is the latest in a flurry of deal activity in Australia as record-low interest rates prompt companies with ample capital to chase higher yields just as the economy enjoys a sharp rebound from a pandemic-driven recession.
Spark, which operates an electricity distribution network in Southern Australia, has seen its shares rise more than 17% so far in 2021, as infrastructure spending and industrial activity rebound.
In a separate statement, Spark said it plans to develop a renewable energy generation and storage hub of up to 2.5 gigawatt capacity in New South Wales to offset supply shortage from the closure of coal-fired power stations.
Spark is being advised by Goldman Sachs on the buyout offer.