AusNet agrees to $10.2 billion takeover


After a bidding war broke out in September, Victorian electricity and gas distribution company AusNet Services has agreed to a binding takeover bid from a consortium led by Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management. The offer values AusNet, which owns and operates Victoria’s electricity transmission network, as well as electricity and gas distribution networks, at more than $10 billion.

AusNet is already majority foreign-owned, with 32% of the company controlled by the Singapore government’s investment fund Temasek through its company Singapore Power, while another 19.9% stake is owned by China’s State Grid Corporation.

Australia gas giant APA Group had tried to outbid the Brookfield consortium, seeking to rally support for its takeover on the promise of preventing Victoria’s power grid becoming completely foreign-owned. It seems APA’s proposition, however, failed to compel, with the company putting out a statement saying that while it still considers AusNet to be a “highly attractive” asset, it will “continue to remain financially disciplined”.

On Monday, Brookfield upped its all-cash offer from $2.50 a share to $2.65, winning the unanimous support of AusNet’s board of directors.

The Brookfield consortium, which includes pension funds Sunsuper, Alberta Investment Management Corp., the Investment Management Corporation of Ontario and Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, has said it sees AusNet as a multi-decade investment pivotal to Australia’s clean energy transition.

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