Australia Blocks Hong Kong Bid For Gas Firm Over "National Interest"
Australia Blocks Hong Kong Bid For Gas Firm Over "National Interest"
Frydenberg says he will block Hong Kong firm from buying $13bn gas business
10 November, 2018, 03:17
However, Frydenberg said the sheer size of APA, with 15,000 kilometres (9,320 miles) of pipelines, including 74% of pipelines in the most populous states of New South Wales and Victoria, raised concerns about foreign ownership.
"The FIRB was unable to reach a unanimous recommendation, expressing its concerns about aggregation and the national interest implications of such a dominant foreign player in the gas and electricity sectors over the longer term", the Treasurer said.
CK Group has moved to defend its investment record.
He is set to announced his final decision as part of a formal process within two weeks.
"I have formed this view on the grounds that it would result in an undue concentration of foreign ownership by a single company group in our most significant gas transmission business", he said in a statement.
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That decision was made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison when he was treasurer.
"My sense is that if the FIRB and the treasurer are taking national security considerations seriously into account, they should say "no" to this particular proposed takeover", Jennings said in September.
The Treasurer stressed that Australia's foreign investment policy was not discriminating against any investor and country, and that his decision was not an adverse reflection on CK Group.
CK Infrastructure Holdings is part of the business founded by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing.
Her visit is the first by an Australian foreign minister in nearly three years and signalled a thawing of relations made frosty by China's anger at debate in Australia about foreign ownership and claims of foreign interference.
"If the takeover proceeded, we'd have about 70 percent or more of electricity and gas infrastructure would be owned by either CKI, a Hong Kong company, or State Grid, a Chinese state-owned entity", Jennings said.
CK, whose Australian portfolio includes power distributor Duet Group, has been blocked in the nation before.
Canberra's legion of China sceptics, from the nuanced to neophyte, will no doubt see it as a reaction against Beijing, something the measured Frydenberg was at pains to avoid in yesterday's statement delivered after the market closed.
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