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First State Super makes first take-private bid

First State Super, soon to be Aware Super, has made a bid to acquire 100% of the shares in a listed telco, in what comes as the super fund's first direct bid for an ASX-listed company.

The $95 billion industry super fund has made a bid to acquire OptiComm, a fibre optic cable company that competes with NBN Co, servicing new residential housing, apartment and commercial building markets.

A First State Super spokesperson confirmed the bid, noting the super fund had provided the telco with an indicative proposal to acquire the company.

"We believe this is a compelling proposal and look forward to working with OptiComm and its management team on this transaction," the spokesperson said.

"We are unable to provide any further comment at this time."

OptiComm shareholders were set to vote on a takeover by rival bidder Uniti Group tomorrow, after entering into a scheme implementation deed with the telecommunications company on June 15.

As part of the deal, Uniti had offered shareholders $5.19 per share, as well as a fully franked dividend of 10 cents per share.

However, OptiComm announced yesterday it had received a competing offer from First State Super.

First State offered shareholders $5.85 per share, and also said it would be open to paying a fully franked dividend of 10 cents per OptiComm share (which would be deducted from the $5.85 per share cash consideration).

This is a premium of 12.5% to the all-cash consideration offered under the Uniti scheme, as well as a 16.77% premium to the implied value of the all-scrip consideration offered by Uniti (on the basis that Uniti shares were trading at $1.43 at September 7).

"The OptiComm board considers that given the value premium of the competing proposal relative to the value of the consideration offered under the Uniti scheme it is appropriate for the OptiComm board to engage in further discussions with the competing bidder on the basis it may lead to a superior proposal," OptiComm said in the ASX announcement.

The board has provided due diligence access to First State until September 18.

This is the super fund's first take-private where it is providing 100% of the equity. It has previously been involved in take privates in the past, but as part of a consortium with an investment manager.

This includes a stake in another fibre optic network provider LBNCo, which it owned via a consortium headed by ROC Partners, a Sydney-based investment manager.

LBNCo was sold to rival OptiComm bidder Uniti last year.

Read more: OptiCommFirst State SuperASXAware SuperNBN CoROC PartnersUniti Group
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