Monday, April 24, 2017

FIRB approves Li Ka-Shing's Cheung Kong/DUET acquisition






FIRB approves Cheung Kong's DUET acquisition




David Bartholomew, CEO of DUET Group, which is subject of a $7.4 billion takeover by Cheung Kong Group.
David Bartholomew, CEO of DUET Group 
FIRB approves Cheung Kong's DUET acquisition






Image result for Cheung Kong Group
Image result for Cheung Kong Group
Image result for Cheung Kong Group
Li Ka-Shing

Hong Kong infrastructure giant Cheung Kong Group has shrugged off last year's embarrassment of being blocked as a bidder for NSW power distributor Ausgrid and won approval for its $7.4 billion takeover of DUET Group, shifting another suite of Australian energy assets into Chinese hands.
DUET shares, which had stubbornly traded below the offer price since the deal was announced amid fears it would be knocked back, soared 9.5 per cent.
The takeover of DUET, owner of power lines, gas pipelines and power plants, will add to the already extensive Australian energy portfolio of Cheung Kong group, controlled by Asian billionaire Li Ka-shing, [still a high level PLA member and suspected Triad Dragonhead] making it easily the biggest foreign owner of utility assets.

In a move presumably timed to coincide with the approval, the Hong Kong group announced the addition of an Australian director to the parent company board. Former career diplomat Paul Tighe was Australian consul-general to Hong Kong until 2016 and has held no board positions in the past three years.
The shock Ausgrid ruling, where Cheung Kong's infrastructure arm was barred from bidding alongside rival China's State Grid Corporation on national security grounds, had from the start cast doubt on whether the global player would get clearance to buy DUET. The Sydney-based firm owns similar poles and wires assets in Victoria as well as Western Australia's biggest gas trunkline.
The prolonged deliberations, with a final decision coming five months after Cheung Kong applied to the Foreign Investment Review Board, added to the uncertainty, as did the setting up of the Critical Infrastructure Centre.
But ASX-listed DUET said on Friday it had been notified by the bidder that the Treasurer has "no objection" to the deal, which has been waved through without any conditions that Cheung Kong deemed unacceptable.
The conditions remain unclear, although they are thought to be typical requirements around local board representation and retaining headquarters within Australia.

Mr Morrison's office wouldn't comment other than confirming the green light for the deal.
The deal price – representing a multiple between the enterprise value and regulated asset base of about 1.7 times – was welcomed by several investors. RBC Capital Markets analyst Paul Johnson described it as "very much at the high end of M&A valuations in the sector".
KPMG Corporate Finance, which was hired by DUET's board to assess the $3.03 per share offer, valued the stock at $2.32-$2.77.
Duet stock closed at $3.01 on Friday.

Still, the bidding consortium, comprising three Cheung Kong companies, "believes that DUET's energy utility assets present an attractive investment opportunity with good growth potential", the group said in January.
"Providing a steady income on a long-term basis through its regulated and contracted revenue, DUET offers a long track record of stable performance."
DUET also owns unregulated assets including a pipeline development company in Western Australia and 100 per cent of clean power producer Energy Developments Ltd, which it bought in 2015 for $1.7 billion. 
The approval follows FIRB's clearance last week of another takeover, Yancoal's acquisition of Rio Tinto's Hunter Valley coal, rail and port assets. A decision on a third Chinese-linked acquisition, Chow Tai Fook's $4 billion takeover of Alinta Energy, is still pending.
DUET chairman Doug Halley said the company was "pleased" the decision had cleared the way for the takeover.
RBC's Mr Johnston said the FIRB approval of the deal could result in near-term gains for energy infrastructure stocks such as Spark Infrastructure and Ausnet, "as inevitably this may pave the way for these companies to be taken-over in time given their existing ownership structures".
He said that Spark, given Cheung Kong Infrastructure's 51 per cent ownership of Victorian Power Networks and SA Power Networks, is "the most likely take-out candidate over time".