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Macquarie, Texas Pacific lead bid for Qantas

Written by: Staff
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SYDNEY, Nov 22 (Reuters) Macquarie Bank Ltd and private equity firm Texas Pacific Group [TPG.UL] are leading a plan to buy out Qantas Airways Ltd. , Australia's top airline said on Wednesday, sending its shares up 21 percent.

''The approach is confidential and incomplete and is being investigated by Qantas,'' Qantas said in a statement, after a newspaper reported that a Macquarie-led buyout possibly worth A.3 billion (.9 billion) was in the works.

Qantas shares soared to a record high A.25, and last traded up 16 percent at A.06, valuing the group at A billion.

The Australian Financial Review reported on Wednesday that senior market players were taking seriously rumours of a bid at A.20 a share.

A Qantas spokesman said the company could add nothing further to its statement.

The deal, although fraught with political difficulties, would involve Macquarie and associates taking a 25 percent stake in Qantas, other Australian investors taking 25 percent, Qantas senior management being asked to take 1 percent and international players, led by Texas Pacific, taking the rest, the paper said.

That mix would allow the consortium to get around ownership restrictions that limit one individual entity to no more that 25 percent of the airline, and international interests collectively owning no more that 49 percent.

Qantas said that it had talked to a range of individuals and companies, including airlines, on possible partnerships, joint ventures and acquisitions over the past several years.

REUTERS DKS PM0526

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