Ownership of Alinta Energy will switch to Chinese interests by the end of the month after the gas retailer’s $4 billion sale to a conglomerate better known for its jewellery stores and hotels won the all-clear from the Foreign Investment Review Board.
Days after it gave the nod to Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s $7.4 billion purchase of the owner of the Dampier to Bunbury gas pipeline, FIRB yesterday confirmed it had waved through the sale of Alinta to Chow Tai Fook Enterprises.
The approval was the last hurdle for CTFE, which is buying WA’s biggest gas retailer from a consortium of about 30 investors headed by US private equity firm TPG.
Alinta chief executive Jeff Dimery, who has led a turnaround of the group since TPG salvaged it from the wreckage of Babcock & Brown in 2011, welcomed the FIRB green light, saying the sale would usher in a new period of growth that would benefit consumers.
“It will give us access to a greater amount of capital at a lower cost than we’ve had in the past, which means we can be more competitive with our investments,” Mr Dimery said.
“We’ve always said for a long time now we’re keen to grow our presence in the Pilbara and I think this will help us do that, whether it’s leveraging our existing infrastructure or looking at new infrastructure investments along the way.”
Alinta has already announced a deal that gives it the right to develop a $600 million, 300MW wind farm at Yandin in the Mid West, and Mr Dimery said the company would look to build solar and battery facilities there and in the Pilbara.
Outside of WA, Alinta aims to significantly expand its presence as both a generator and combined gas and power retailer, with a goal of increasing its east-coast customer numbers. The Alinta purchase is CTFE’s biggest deal in Australia. Controlled by the Cheng family, the group has already invested in several Queensland tourism and hospitality projects, including the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort on the Gold Coast.
The sprawling conglomerate straddles 50 countries and is best known in China for its New World department store chain and a jewellery retail business which covers 2300 stores.