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Toll's deal with Govt exclusive

By Philip Macalister, ShareChat Business News Editor

Thursday 7th August 2003

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Toll Holdings has confirmed that its arrangement with the Crown over Tranz Rail is an exclusive agreement.

Toll made the announcement today after the Takeovers Panel yesterday ruled that its deal did not breach of the Takeovers Code.

Toll managing director Paul Little says Toll is the only company who has come forward who has a fully integrated logistics capability, the operational experience and the financial capacity to turn Tranz Rail around.

"We worked hard to negotiate a deal with the Government that meets its desire to return the tracks to public ownership, while allowing us to invest in making the company viable.

"Anyone else could have tried to reach a similar agreement with the Government, but they didn't."

Finance Minister Michael Cullen says the government were prepared to do an exclusive deal with Toll because "we recognise they have the managerial and financial capacity to restore Tranz Rail to viability."

"Toll's strong balance sheets also mean that it will be able to put in the capital required to rebuild the rail fleet, and to pay full access costs for the rail network in the long term rather than rely on a subsidy from the taxpayer."

He also said that if Toll is unsuccessful with its bid the original heads of agreement between the government and Tranz Rail will be reactivated.

"At that stage, the government would be prepared to negotiate a similar arrangement to that we have with Toll were another company able to bring the required skills and capacities to the table," Dr Cullen said.

Little says if the Toll offer of 95c a share fails, shareholders are faced with "a highly unstable situation and a very uncertain future."

"We believe our offer is fair and is in the best interests of shareholders," Little says.

However most institutions who hold a stake in the railroad company believe the offer is pitched too low.

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