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Uniti (ASX: UWL) share price surges 11% to record high as Macquarie bid appears confirmed

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The Uniti Group Ltd (ASX: UWL) share price surged to an all-time high before the company’s shares went into a trading halt late Wednesday afternoon.

Shares in the fibre broadband company rallied 10.7% to $4.67. This made it the top S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) performer on Wednesday.

In case you’re wondering, the Imugene Limited (ASX: IMU) share price and the Pointsbet Holdings Ltd (ASX: PBH) share price took the second and third spots, respectively.

Let’s check what happened with Uniti today.

The big run in the Uniti share price comes on the back of rumours that Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX: MQG) has made a higher bid for the telecommunications company.

Uniti was compelled to ask for a trading halt an hour before market close to address the media speculation. The company’s shares are expected to start trading again this Friday after management has time to provide further details.

The company didn’t say anything more, which is not unusual given it has been tight-lipped about takeover approaches.

Macquarie’s $3.6 billion bid for Uniti

But the trading halt has prompted some market watchers to see it as confirmation that Macquarie has lobbed a bid.

The Australian Financial Review certainly thinks so. It said Macquarie Asset Management and PSP Investments have made a $5 a share bid for Uniti. The offer values Uniti at around $3.6 billion in total.

The article didn’t cite any sources but said the pair have given the company a non-binding indicative bid. The proposal is similar in structure to the one offered by New Zealand fund manager HRL Morrison & Co.

As the Motley Fool has previously reported, Uniti has granted Morrison & Co exclusive access to undertake due diligence to support its $4.50 cash bid.

Awaiting more details on the Macquarie and PSP bid

This exclusive agreement includes a $5 million break fee that is payable to Morrison & Co. But it may have a fiduciary exemption that could allow Uniti to entertain a higher credible bid without penalty.

The Macquarie party would almost certainly fit the bill. Macquarie Asset Management acquired fellow telecommunications company Vocus Group in June 2021.

PSP is one of Canada’s largest pension funds with around $200 billion in assets, according to the AFR. It isalso no stranger to Australia as it has made significant investments here.

Competitive auction to acquire Uniti

The question for investors is whether a third bidder could emerge. Regardless, Uniti’s board will be under pressure to run a competitive auction.

These are happy days for Uniti shareholders. But we are unlikely to get more details from management till late tonight or, more likely, tomorrow.

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