Hong Kong billionaires to take over major Australian energy firm

The Hong Kong billionaires behind the world’s biggest jewellery business are set to purchase Alinta Energy in a deal worth more than $4 billion.

Chow Tai Fook Enterprises has had a bid accepted for the Australian power generator and energy retailer.

Alinta is a major supplier of energy to BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto in the Western Australian Pilbara region.

The deal will still require approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board, which has the power to veto acquisitions of Australian assets.

Australian energy and utility companies are increasingly being targeted by foreign firms because of the strong opportunities for growth.

The Alinta deal is the second purchase of a major Australian asset by a Hong Kong family in recent months.

Companies owned by Asia’s richest man Li Ka-shing are currently in the middle of a $7.4 billion bid for Duet Group, which owns a series of assets including the Dampier to Bunbury gas pipeline in Western Australia.

Chow Tai Fook Enterprises is owned by Hong Kong’s Cheng family, which made its fortune through the huge Chow Tai Fook jewellery business.

The family also has interests in the property, hotel and infrastructure industries.

It has thus far had little exposure to Australia, with its investments in the country limited to a hotel in Queensland and a planned casino development. The family also owns interests in a number of Chinese power stations.