Hong Kong tycoon Li offers $5.4B for Australia energy firm

AP News
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Posted: Dec 05, 2016 12:18 AM

HONG KONG (AP) — Australian energy company Duet Group said Monday it's considering a multibillion dollar takeover offer from the infrastructure arm of Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing's business empire.

Duet said it recently received an unsolicited cash offer from Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings for 3 Australian dollars a share. The offer is worth A$7.3 billion dollars ($5.4 billion).

Duet shares jumped on the offer, which was 28 percent higher than the closing price on Friday.

The proposal indicates renewed interest from billionaire Li in bidding for Australian infrastructure assets following a setback in August, when the government blocked a A$10 billion joint offer from Cheung Kong and Chinese state-owned State Grid to lease a Sydney electricity grid, citing national security grounds.

That deal was scuppered amid increasing wariness over Chinese foreign investments, particularly by state-owned companies.

Duet operates a 1,600 kilometer (994 mile) gas pipeline in Western Australia and gas and energy networks in Melbourne. The company said it's not certain that the deal will proceed further.

Cheung Kong Infrastructure already owns significant energy businesses in Australia, as well as utilities in Britain and New Zealand and parking lots and in Canada.