Australia approves Chow Tai Fook’s Alinta Energy buyout
Chow Tai Fook Jewellery, the major unit of the Hong Kong conglomerate controlled by the city’s third richest family, dropped almost 3 per cent in Monday morning trading after media reports said its parent won Australian regulatory approval to acquire gas and electricity provider Alinta Energy Holdings for US$3.1 billion.
The green-light was granted despite Canberra last year turning down bids from China’s State Grid Corp and Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings, owned by the city’s richest man Li Ka-shing, for electricity infrastructure company Ausgrid on national interest grounds.
The jeweller, one of the largest in the world, is the major unit of Chow Tai Fook Enterprises which was the buyer in the transaction. Its shares lost 2.7 per cent to HK$8.21 as of 11.32am Monday.
The deal has been approved by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board and is subject to strict conditions, a spokeswoman for Treasurer Scott Morrison said on Sunday, without elaborating. Morrison decides on approvals for overseas investors on advice from the investment board.
Chow Tai Fook Enterprises in March agreed to buy all of Australian utilities Alinta Energy for around A$4 billion (US$3.1 billion). Alinta’s assets in Australia span nationwide energy retailing through power generation for industrial customers.
The acquisition marked the first attempt by the family of Hong Kong tycoon Cheng Yu-tung, who passed away in September, to make a foray into Australia’s energy sector. The family, the third richest in the city, amassed its fortune from the property development and jewellery businesses through their two ventures New World Development and Chow Tai Fook Jewellery.
Relatively stable long-term cash flows from regulated utilities in developed markets have attracted a string of Chinese interest in recent years, including Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing’s companies and state-owned power distributor State Grid Corp.
Li has been one of the most prominent Hong Kong moguls actively venturing into other business areas as profits from the real estate business have declined.
The regulatory approval was reported earlier by the Australian Financial Review, which did not cite sources for the information.