Cheung Kong

Shareholders of Li Ka-shing companies back motion for A$7.3 billion takeover of Duet Group

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 March, 2017, 9:48pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 March, 2017, 10:35pm

Shareholders of a group of companies controlled by tycoon Li Ka-shing have voted to set up a joint venture for a A$7.3 billion (US$5.51 billion) takeover bid of Australian utility company Duet Group, according to filings to the Hong Kong stock exchange late Tuesday.

Cheung Kong Property Holdings (CKPH), Cheung Kong Infrastructure (CKI) and Power Assets Holdings (PAH) stated in filings that its independent shareholders had voted in meetings on Tuesday, with over 95 per cent in all three companies backing the motion to set up a joint venture to acquire target company Duet.

Duet Group, which distributes electricity and natural gas, is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Should the acquisition go through, CKPH and CKI will hold 40 per cent stakes each in Duet, while PAH will hold a 20 per cent stake.

The takeover bid is subject to approval by the Australian government, although analysts had previously noted the risk that Canberra might oppose the bid by the Li-controlled companies.

Analysts cited the fact that CKI’s bid for Duet’s peer Ausgrid was rejected in August 2016 on the grounds that it went against national interests, and brought up concerns that the takeover might give CKI a dominant position in the market as the company already owns similar assets in regions near Duet’s operations.

However, CKI deputy managing director Andrew Hunter told reporters in January that the bidding consortium is confident of obtaining government approval in Australia, since the nation’s competition commission has confirmed it has no objection to the bid.