AustralianSuper and IFM Investors have submitted an unsolicited bid to Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) government to acquire a majority holding in the NSW power network Ausgrid.
The network is reportedly valued at around AUD10bn (€6.8bn).
The consortium is seeking to take a 50.4% interest in a 99-year lease of Ausgrid, in the wake of an Australian federal government rebuff of two bids from China and Hong Kong.
Ausgrid is the largest supplier of electricity in NSW, a fact that sparked public protest when it became known that China’s State Grid and Hong Kong’s-listed Cheung Kong Infrastructure were in the running for the asset.
The outcry led federal treasurer Scott Morrison to block the sale earlier this month.
Morrison said at the time: “Ausgrid’s footprint includes critical power and communications services to business and government. The national-security concerns are not country-specific and relate to the transaction structure and the nature of the assets.”
Morrison’s decision forced the NSW government to revisit the sale process.
The AustralianSuper/IMF consortium lodged its bid today.
The partners said in a statement that the NSW government was reviewing the proposal and would make a decision later in the year.
Details of the proposal are confidential.
For its part, the NSW government said the all-Australian proposal was “unique and represents excellent value”.
In a joint statement, AustralianSuper chief executive Ian Silk and IFM Investors chief executive Brett Himbury said: “[We] are pleased to jointly submit this unique proposal and, if we are ultimately successful, intend to manage the asset in a responsible, considered manner over the long term.”
They described Ausgrid as a high-quality core infrastructure asset in operation for more than 100 years.
It distributes electricity to the Sydney, Central Coast and Hunter regions of NSW across a 22,275 sq km area.