AusNet shareholders overwhelmingly approve $18 billion sale – pv magazine International

Victorian network utility AusNet Services appears certain to be fully foreign-owned after shareholders overwhelmingly approved the sale of the company to a consortium led by Canadian asset management group Brookfield.

AusNet Services shareholders have voted in favor of a resolution to sell the power transmission system owner to a consortium led by Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management, with the estimated $18 billion deal receiving huge backing investors at a shareholders’ meeting on Friday.

AusNet owns and operates the majority of Victoria’s transmission network infrastructure, as well as much of the state’s electricity and gas distribution network.

While listed on the ASX, AusNet is already majority foreign-owned, with 32% controlled by Singapore government investment fund Temasek through its Singapore Power company, while another 19. 9% is owned by the State Grid Corporation of China.

The Brookfield consortium, which includes Sunsuper pension funds, the Alberta Investment Management Corporation, the Investment Management Corporation of Ontario and the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, said it sees AusNet as a “decades-long investment essential to Australia’s Clean Energy Transition”.

AusNet Chairman Peter Mason said the sale had been approved by the required majority of shareholders with 99.76% of votes cast at Friday’s meeting in favor of the resolution.

“The AusNet Board is pleased to report the very positive outcome of the program meeting,” it said in a statement.

“The 99.76% vote in favor of the Scheme is the result of a competitive process and underscores the work of the Board of Directors to maximize shareholder value.

“We would like to thank our shareholders, especially our major shareholders Singapore Power and State Grid, for their commitment to the program process and their support of AusNet over the years.”

Brookfield’s cash offer of $2.65 per share had already won the unanimous support of AusNet’s board.

Australian gas giant APA Group had tried to outbid the Brookfield consortium, but failed to win the support required for its takeover on a promise to prevent Victoria’s power grid from falling entirely under foreign control.

The sale remains subject to the approval of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

The second mandatory hearing is scheduled for Thursday, February 3. If the court approves the scheme, AusNet said in a statement that it will file a copy of the court orders with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on Friday, at which time the scheme will become legally effective.

The takeover of AusNet comes less than a month after the long-awaited sale of network operator Spark Infrastructure to a North American consortium led by private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts was completed via a ” $5.2 billion all-cash transaction.

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