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The Australian government’s decision to approve the takeover of Australian energy network operator Duet Group by Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing may pave the way for similar takeovers, according to Royal Bank of Canada.
A consortium led by Mr Li’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings was granted approval by the Australian Federal Treasurer as it had “no objection under the Foreign Acquisition & Takeovers act”.
RBC’s Paul Johnston said delays had been expected to allow processing time for the Critical Infrastructure Centre – a body formed in January to assess whether foreign-led bids for infrastructure such as ports, electricity and water could affect national security.
The CIC was formed amid concerns of an increased risk of “sabotage, espionage and coercion” involving key infrastructure following increased investment from China.
Mr Johnston said there was “precedent value” from the Duet decision by the government and the Foreign Investment Review Board opening the way for takeovers of other Sydney-listed utility companies, such as Spark Infrastructure and SP Ausnet.
Cheung Kong Infrastructure owns 51 per cent of Victoria Power Networks with Spark holding 49 per cent of the company.