Australia blocks China bid for biggest power network
The Australian government has said security concerns were behind its decision to block Chinese bidders from taking a controlling interest in the country's largest electricity network.
Australia itself currently has no nuclear power generating plants and the government's decision to block – at least temporarily – Chinese and Hong Kong investors centred on the purchase of a controlling stake in Ausgrid, New South Wales's electricity distribution network. China's State Grid Corp and Hong Kong's Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings have been attempting to buy a 50.4 per cent controlling stake in Ausgrid but, in a statement, the Australian Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison said the bid was "contrary to the national interest”.Mr Morrison told a press conference on Thursday that he could not detail the national security concerns, but said they applied to "all current applications". He added, "Ausgrid's footprint includes critical power and communications services that Ausgrid provides to business and government. The national security concerns are not country specific and relate to the transaction structure and the nature of the assets."The Australian Broadcasting Corporation commented, "The decision is seen as a major setback for NSW Premier Mike Baird and Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian, whose government hopes to lease a 50 per cent stake in the asset for 99 years to help raise funds for infrastructure projects."Ms Berejiklian played down the decision, saying that, if the Chinese bidders were permanently blocked, plenty of other investors were interested in the sale."The (federal) treasurer has indicated a timeframe for considering the process, and I want to stress this — no matter what the outcome in a week's time — this is a valuable asset with a lot of interest," she said.
APAC Summer 2016 digital magazine.
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