State Grid Said to Lodge Australia Power Interest With Macquarie

State Grid Corp. of China, the nation’s biggest power distributor, is weighing a joint bid with a Macquarie Group Ltd. fund for Australian electricity assets, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Chinese company teamed with Macquarie Infrastructure & Real Assets to lodge an expression of interest for New South Wales power transmission company TransGrid, the people said. AusNet Services, which operators the network in Victoria state, also submitted its interest by Tuesday’s deadline, they said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

Australia’s most populous state plans to raise about A$20 billion ($15 billion) leasing almost half of its electricity network to fund new railways, roads, schools and hospitals. The government will narrow the list of bidders as early as next month and ask the shortlisted parties to submit initial offers for the network, the people said.

Hastings Funds Management Ltd. and Spark Infrastructure Group are part of a group that expressed interest, which is also backed by Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Canada’s Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec and an arm of Kuwait Investment Authority, the people said. Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Ltd. also lodged its interest, while IFM Investors Pty made a joint submission with QIC Ltd., the people said.

State Bidders

State-owned China Southern Power Grid Co. joined Global Infrastructure Partners while AustralianSuper Pty, the nation’s biggest pension fund, teamed with Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Borealis Infrastructure Management Inc., the people said. Singapore Power Ltd., which owns 31 percent of AusNet, is in talks about making a joint bid with the Australian company, two of the people said.

The sale of the electricity networks would follow at least A$9 billion of asset sales by the state government in two years, including leases to ports and a water desalination plant. Premier Mike Baird, a former banker at Deutsche Bank AG, won a mandate for the selloff after being returned at a state election in March.

Spokesmen for the New South Wales government, AusNet, AustralianSuper, Hastings, IFM, Macquarie and Spark declined to comment. Representatives for Cheung Kong Infrastructure, Southern Power Grid, State Grid and Singapore Power didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

The government last year appointed Deutsche Bank and UBS Group AG as advisers to sell the lease to operate TransGrid, which manages one of Australia’s largest electricity transmission networks. It also plans to sell similar leases to 50.4 percent of two of the state’s other power transmission and distribution companies, Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy.

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