Perplexing. That's how several fund managers interpreted a recent investor session with rail freight giant Pacific National. Street Talk understands Credit Suisse's equities arm held an investor lunch with Pacific National big wigs in recent weeks, raising more questions than it answered.
While investors were keen to get intel on the bulk haulage, coal and steel markets for any insights into listed rival Aurizon, many came away feeling Pacific National executives were asking a lot of the questions. While it's not uncommon for private companies to field and take requests for meetings with investors and analysts, several fundies came away thinking Pacific National may be headed back to public markets over the medium term.
It seems illogical, given how hard the now owners fought for the business less than two years ago. But seasoned investors couldn't shake the feeling. And it certainly would not be a small bite. When the break up and takeover of Asciano was consummated in 2016, independent expert Grant Samuel valued Pacific National at $8.75 billion to $9.25 billion. The deal saw Asciano removed from the glare of public markets. Credit Suisse was heavily involved in the deal.
The firm has close ties to one of Qube's two partners, Global Infrastructure Partners, both domestically and offshore. As part of the carve up of Asciano, Pacific National is owned by a consortium of infrastructure investors Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, GIP, China Investment Corporation, Singapore's GIC and British Columbia Investment Management Corporation.
Pacific National has had a busy few years. In 2017, it inked a deal with Linfox to take coal carrier Aurizon's intermodal assets in Queensland. It has a new chief executive at the helm after appointing BHP veteran Dean Dalla Valle to the role last year. Pacific National is also positioning to capitalise on the federal government's mammoth Inland Rail project.