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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Ausgrid sale to Chinese formally rejected

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NSW Premier Mike Baird will take his bid to partially sell off NSW electricity grid Ausgrid back to the market after Treasurer Scott Morrison confirmed its sale to Chinese buyers has been formally rejected.

Mr Morrison had given the State Grid Corporation of China and Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong a week to make their case for the sale but released his final decision late on Friday to block the deal to foreign investors.

“I have decided that the acquisition by foreign investors under the current proposed structure of the lease of 50.4 per cent … would be contrary to the national interest,” he said in a statement.

Mr Morrison cited national security as one of the concerns held over the current proposal and its result of a large percentage of foreign ownership.

The premier said the decision was a “speed bump” and he was frustrated at the federal government’s delay.

“My frustration is that this should have been determined much earlier,” he told reporters in Sydney on Friday evening.

“What we need to do now, is get on with the job.”

Mr Baird insisted there were still many bidders interested, including foreign investors.

The state government had earmarked funds from the sale – expected to top $10 billion – for infrastructure projects.

NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian said she was confident the sale would go ahead before the next budget.

“We’re looking forward to banking the proceeds by the June budget next year,” she said.

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