Bidders wait on NSW power bill
The NSW Government is preparing to introduce its power privatisation bill in state parliament this week, with buyers lining up to make a bid.
The Baird government is planning to move quickly on its first deal, if the bill passes.
It could see bids lodged for a 99-year lease on high-voltage transmission company Transgrid as early as this week.
Reports say there are a range of companies looking to buy a slice of the NSW electricity network, including Canadian pension funds, investors on behalf of Hong Kong’s richest man - Li Ka-shing, as well as Chinese state-owned power companies and local institutions too.
The situation is set to heat up on Tuesday, with the legislation arriving in the upper house on the same day as Christian Democrat Fred Nile’s report on the issue.
The combination of the asset leases and a federal government bonus that comes with them is expected to raise about $20 billion, much of which is earmarked for future infrastructure development.
NSW Premier Mike Baird is well-versed in asset sales, having overseen the sale of the NSW desalination plant, the ports of Botany, Port Kembla and Newcastle, in his former role as state treasurer.
But he may have a challenge ahead in getting good value on the new deals, with regulators reporting a decline in NSW’s electricity demand due to cutbacks by industry and consumers.
Opposition MPs say they hope the upper house cross-benchers heed their warnings that the sale of electricity assets will lead to service losses, job losses, reductions in service levels and increased power prices.