Australian port and rail operator Asciano now has a decision to make after a consortium led by rival Qube Holdings finally formalised a A$9bn for the company, putting it in direct competition with an offer put forward by a group led by Canada’s Brookfield Infrastructure Partners.

Qube, Global Infrastructure Partners, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and China’s CIC Capital have offered A$6.97 cash and one Qube share for every Asciano share. That equates to A$9.08 per share, based on Qube’s previous closing price.

Asciano shares rose as much as 4 per cent to A$8.84 in Sydney today, while Qube shed as much as 1.4 per cent to A$2.08. Both shares spent much of the morning in a trading halt.

A bidding war broke out last year when the Qube consortium secured a 19.99 per cent stake in Asciano via an after-market raid in late October. Shortly after, it made a non-binding proposal for the company.

Brookfield’s attempts to snare Asciano began in June with an indicative offer, which was then updated in August, comprising A$6.94 per share in cash and 0.0387 Brookfield Infrastructure Partners shares, which are traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Based on BIP’s last closing price, the bid is worth A$8.82 per Asciano share.

The scrip components of the Qube- and Brookfield-led bids means the values of the competing offers fluctuate.

Until today, Brookfield’s offer was the only formal one of the table, and therefore the one Asciano management were recommending to shareholders. It has five days to match or beat the rival offer.

The Qube consortium’s intention is to carve off Asciano’s Patrick ports business for A$2.7bn, and leave the remaining rail assets for GIP, CPPIB and CIC Capital.

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