FIRB Yancoal

FIRB warns foreign companies not to target Aussie “icons”

The head of Australia’s powerful Foreign Investment Review Board has sent a stark warning to overseas investors.

The influential head of Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) has told investors not to target “business icons” in the clearest sign yet of the Government’s growing concerns over foreign investment.

FIRB Chairman Brian Wilson told a conference of Chinese investors in Melbourne that the nation’s foreign investments must have “social licence to operate from the public”.

The warning comes as the Government and FIRB rejected Chinese state company Pengxin’s $370 million to buy Kidman, Australia’s largest privately owned cattle company, on national interest grounds.

Treasurer Scott Morrison reiterated that the system must ensure decision were “made in a way that does not compromise Australia’s national interest,”.

One important decision that will come before the Treasurer and FIRB in coming weeks will be the acquisition of the iconic Newcastle Port by China’s Yancoal. 

It is likely to face scrutiny as the deal would give a Chinese state-controlled company significant control over the world’s largest coal terminal – allowing it to impact regional commodities prices.