Beijing: The prospect of Hong Kong companies being barred from investing in Australian infrastructure because of a fear of “Chinese influence” has stunned the Australian business community in the former British colony.
A consortium of publicly-listed companies controlled by Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, have made a $13 billion bid for the gas pipeline company APA Group.
But the Australian Financial Review reported the gas deal, which must be approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, may be blocked on national interest grounds. The deal would give the company control of almost 60 per cent of Australia’s pipelines.
However, Hong Kong government sources say publicly-listed companies there are “nothing like” mainland Chinese state enterprises, and point to Hong Kong’s separate legal system and significant economic autonomy from Beijing.
In Hong Kong, there is disbelief that Australian politicians would target CK Infrastructure for “Chinese influence” because its largest shareholders after the Li family are US institutional investors.