ON AUGUST 13 New Zealand’s Tranz Rail confirmed that ’there have been limited discussions’ with Toll Holdings of Australia about improvements to the company’s most recent offer, submitted on July 9. The offer for NZ$0·95 per share required 90% acceptance by August 29 and replaced Toll’s previous takeover bid (RG 7.03 p424).

Basis for the revised offer was a ’new partnership deal’ that Toll Holdings had signed with the New Zealand government on July 7. This would commit the state to buying back the rail infrastructure from Toll for NZ$1, transferring ownership to a new Crown entity known provisionally as TrackCo, and investing NZ$200m in upgrading over the first five years. For its part, Toll would spend NZ$100m on rolling stock and locomotives.

Tranz Rail had previously recommended that shareholders should not accept the deal, and it repeated this advice on August 13. An independent assessment by Grant Samuel & Associates concluded that the Toll offer was not fair as the share price was ’below the assessed value range’. Toll currently holds nearly 20% of Tranz Rail shares.

Legislation to permit multiple operators on the national rail network was introduced to Parliament on July 8. The Railways Bill provides for licensing of operators and other organisations involved in the railway business, each of which will require a safety case.

HGrupo TMM announced on August 18 that a unanimous vote of shareholders had rejected the sale of the company’s interests in Grupo Transportación Ferroviaria Mexicana to Kansas City Southern (RG 7.03 p.414).