* Spark says A$2.80-per-share offer undervalues co
* Shares jump to more than 42-month high
* Spark won't allow access to books but open to talks
July 15 (Reuters) - 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 Inc, but kept its door open to further talks,
sending its shares up nearly 8%.
The second bid from KKR and Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan
Board of A$2.80-per-share was 10 cents more than the previous
one, Spark revealed.
The electricity poles-and-wires firm is open to sharing
"limited information on its business and prospects" subject to a
confidentiality agreement, but said the offer did not merit
access to its books.
The news sent Spark shares up 7.7% to a more than 42-month
high of A$2.67, which is above the first bid but shy of the
second. Thursday's offer was at a near 13% premium to Spark's
closing price in the previous session.
KKR, in an emailed statement, confirmed making the bid with
the Canadian pension fund.
"Overall, we believe the bid prices appear fair and we
expect the management to be under increasing pressure to engage
further with the consortium, or disclose a better pathway to
realising value," J.P. Morgan analysts said in a note.
The offer is the latest in a flurry of deal activity in
Australia as record-low interest rates have prompted
institutional investors with ample capital to chase higher
yields just as the economy enjoys a sharp rebound from a
A group of infrastructure funds offered $16.6 billion on
Thursday to buy Sydney Airport Holdings, which the
operator of Australia's largest airport rejected as a lowball
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
Spark is being advised by Goldman Sachs on the buyout offer.
($1 = 1.3367 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru, additional reporting
by Nikhil Kurian Nainan and Rushil Dutta; Editing by Shounak
Dasgupta and Subhranshu Sahu)