Hong Kong tycoon Li to buy Australian energy firm Duet

Li Ka-shing’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure today moved a step closer to a more than A$7 billion (RM23.4 billion) takeover of Australian energy group Duet after a recommendation from the energy group’s board.That represents a seven per cent premium to its closing price of $2.78 on Friday.Duet would give Asia’s third-richest man access to an energy network covering an area three times the size of Hong Kong as the tycoon faces uncertainties in Europe – his biggest market – with a string of elections this year.In December, the Hong Kong billionaire put in an unsolicited and conditional offer of A$3 per share for Duet.Hong Kong-listed Cheung Kong is a global player in infrastructure with operations in China, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Portugal.Duet said its board is recommending shareholders approve the deal.The consortium already has significant investments in Australia, including majority stakes in electricity networks in Victoria and South Australia as well as control of the Envestra gas distribution grid in Victoria.Duet said in a statement that the offer recognizes the company’s “value and future growth platform”. CKI’s bid to acquire state-owned energy firm Ausgrid was rejected by Australia in August on the grounds of national interest.DUET now has holdings in Victoria and Western Australia, and the agreement would see CKI add to its already expansive energy portfolio, acquiring stakes in Victoria’s United Energy, Western Australia’s Dampier to Bunbury pipeline, and gas provider Multinet.Updates with shares in second paragraph.