Australia clears Chow Tai Fook’s $3 bln buyout of Alinta Energy: Reuters

A buyout by Hong Kong’s Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE) of gas and electricity retailer Alinta Energy has been approved by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), clearing the way for a deal said to be worth nearly A$4 billion ($3 billion).

The deal is subject to strict conditions, a spokeswoman for the FIRB said in an email on Monday.

Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison decides whether to approve foreign takeovers after taking advice from FIRB.

A deal would mark a first foray into the Australian energy sector for CTFE, a privately held conglomerate best known for retail arm Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group.

The family-controlled business already invests in Australian property including a joint venture with casino operator Star Entertainment Group Ltd.

Alinta, owned by private equity companies including TPG Capital Management LP, had been preparing for an initial public offering with a valuation from brokers averaging A$3.4 billion before Chow Tai Fook Enterprises made its offer last month.

Hong Kong and China combined are the fifth-biggest source of foreign investment in Australia and Treasurer Morrison has blocked some recent buyouts citing national security concerns.

Last year he rejected bids from China’s State Grid Corp and Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings for electricity grid Ausgrid.

But earlier this month he cleared CKI’s $5.5 billion bid for DUET Group, which owns a power grid in the state of Victoria.