Report: Carlyle joins race for Asciano

The Carlyle Group has reportedly submitted a bid for Australia's largest railway operator. TPG and GIP have been trying to buy the company since last year.

The Carlyle Group, TPG and Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) are reportedly three among four entities vying to acquire part or all of Australian railway operator Asciano.

Asciano expects to announce the preferred bidder by 30 June, according to a Reuters report. The identity of the fourth bidder is still unclear.

TPG and Asciano did not respond to requests for comment. Carlyle could not be reached by press time. A GIP spokesman said the firm had no comment for now.

Asciano, Australia’s largest railway and port operator, is riddled with debt and owes A$4.6 billion to creditors. It is also considering other means to address its cash flow problems besides an asset sale, a source told Reuters.

In August 2008, Asciano rejected a joint takeover offer worth A$2.7 billion ($2.1 billion; €1.5 billion) from TPG and GIP, saying that the offer was too low and undervalued the company’s business.

In May this year, the Australian Financial Review reported that GIP left the TPG-led consortium and was likely to launch a bid of its own. GIP reportedly was interested in acquiring only parts of Asciano's business while the TPG-led consortium wanted to buy it in its entirety. TPG declined comment on the report at the time.

Asciano owns and manages Pacific National rail operations and Patrick ports. Pacific National provides bulk haulage services for coal, grain and bulk industrial products, and has more than 600 locomotives and 14,000 wagons. Patrick’s ports and stevedoring business involves the operation of container terminals in four of Australian container ports.