The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) is believed to have pushed back its ruling on Cheung Kong Infrastructure’s $7.5 billion takeover bid for Duet Group, with some suggestions the regulator could block the deal unless the Hong Kong group finds a local backer.
Initially, it was expected that FIRB would rule on the takeover in the next fortnight, but that decision is now anticipated to be passed down in April.
Speculation surfaced this week that FIRB would order CKI to find a minority Australian investor to partner with or else block the deal, yet others say there has so far been no indication as to what sort of ruling would be handed down.
The group is advised by Morgan Stanley on its $3-a-share offer lobbed in December, while Duet has Macquarie Capital as its defence adviser.
Should a local group be brought into the CKI tent, sources say that it is likely to be an Australian superannuation fund.
CKI is thought to covet Duet’s strategic Dampier-to-Bunbury pipeline, which delivers almost all of Perth’s gas, and its Multinet business, which distributes gas in Melbourne.
It is one of the biggest overseas infrastructure investors in Australia, with South Australian Power Networks, CitiPower and Powercor in Victoria and Australian Gas, which is one of Australia’s largest natural gas distribution companies.
Meanwhile, FIRB’s position on data security is expected
to be tested when it shortly
runs the ruler over the NSW government’s Land and
Property Information (LPI)
Final bids for the asset, which is Australia’s largest centralised land titles registry, are due by March 31 and NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is expected to make a speedy decision.
A number of overseas players, including Borealis
and CPPIB, are keen bidders
but FIRB is expected to take a strict view on how LPI data will be stored by the successful buyer.
The data aspect was one of the main hurdles for State Grid in its bid for TransGrid, which failed to received the FIRB sign off.