SYDNEY — Li Ka-shing may be one of the most influential businessmen in Asia, but that reputation — and fear of Chinese influence — is working against his company’s ambitions to buy a critical gas operation in Australia.
悉尼——李嘉诚也许是亚洲最有影响力的商人之一,但这个名声——加上外界对中国影响力的畏惧——正阻碍他的公司在澳大利亚买下一家重要燃气企业的壮志。
The Australian government, seeking to balance national security interests and economic growth, said on Wednesday that it was likely to block CK Group, a company led by Mr. Li, a Hong Kong billionaire, from acquiring APA Group, the country’s largest gas and pipeline company. A final decision is expected in two weeks, according to a Treasury statement.
澳大利亚政府正在国家安全利益与经济增长之间权衡,该政府周三称可能会阻止香港亿万富豪李嘉诚旗下的长江集团(CK Group)收购该国最大的燃气及管道公司APA集团。据澳大利亚财政部的一份声明,最终决定预计在两周内做出。
In February, Australia’s Treasury announced it was tightening rules on investments in electricity and agriculture because of questions about China’s influence on such deals. As much as $90 billion in Chinese investment has flowed to Australia since 2007.
今年2月,澳大利亚财政部宣布收紧对电力和农业的投资政策,原因就是对这类投资里的中国影响力存有疑问。自2007年起,已有相当于900亿美元的中国投资流入澳大利亚。
Australia’s treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said his “preliminary view” of CK Group’s bid of 12.98 billion Australian dollars ($9.6 billion) was to turn it down because it “would be contrary to the national interest.”
澳大利亚财长乔什·富来顿伯格(Josh Frydenberg)称,他对长江集团129.8亿澳元(96亿美元)竞购提案的“初步观点”是否决,因为这起收购“有悖国家利益。”
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“I have formed this view on the grounds that it would result in an undue concentration of foreign ownership by a single company group in our most significant gas transmission business,” Mr. Frydenberg said in a statement.
“我得出这一观点的基础是,这将使我国最重要的燃气输送业务的国外所有权过度集中在一家公司手中。”富来顿伯格在一份声明中称。
CK Group said in a separate statement that “the preliminary view is not an adverse reflection on the CK Group, and that the Australian Government welcomes CK Group’s investments in Australia and its broader contribution to the Australian economy.”
长江集团在另一份声明中称“这一初步观点并非对长江集团有不好的看法,澳大利亚政府欢迎长江集团在澳大利亚的投资及其对澳大利亚经济更广泛的贡献。”
Mr. Li’s companies already have substantial interests in Australia, but their attempts at acquiring utilities have had mixed results. The Australian government cleared the group’s takeover of gas and electricity distributor Duet Group in 2017; a year earlier it had blocked a joint bid for a state electricity distributor.
李嘉诚的多家公司已在澳大利亚拥有大量股权,但他们收购公用事业的尝试结果喜忧参半。2017年澳大利亚政府批准了长江集团收购燃气及电力分销商杜埃特集团(Duet Group);再早一年则驳回了它对某国有配电商的一次并购提案。
This year, as the bid for the gas pipeline was under review and scrutiny over foreign acquisitions increased, CK Group attempted to allay concerns about the Chinese government’s influence.
今年,当燃气管线的并购提案正在接受复审,而澳大利亚对国外投资的审查收紧时,长江集团曾试图打消对方对中国政府影响力的担忧。
Andy Hunter, CK’s deputy chief executive, called the criticism and the concern about foreign investment as misinformed and disappointing. “We are a properly governed, publicly-listed company and for anyone to suggest otherwise is sadly misinformed. The idea that we are in some way influenced by the Chinese government,” Mr. Hunter told the Australian Financial Review in September, was “fictitious to say the least.”
长江集团副首席执行官安迪·亨特(Andy Hunter)称这种对外资的批评和担忧受到了误导,是令人失望的。“我们是一家正当经营、公开上市的公司,任何人都可以提出建议,却不幸被人误解。这些关于我们受到中国政府的某种影响的说法,”亨特在今年9月对《澳大利亚金融评论报》说,“至少是在胡编乱造。”
The bid was cleared by the Australian competition watchdog but needed approval from by the Foreign Investment Review Board and the Treasurer.
并购提案已获澳大利亚的竞争监管部门通过,但还要得到外国投资审查委员会和财政部长的批准。
The review board was unable to reach a unanimous recommendation, according to Mr. Frydenberg’s statement. While the competition watchdog approved the bid, it hadn’t considered “the concentration of foreign ownership.”
根据富来顿伯格的声明,审查委员会未能达成一致的建议。尽管竞争监管部门批准了并购,它未曾虑及“国外所有权的集中。”
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Mr. Frydenberg said that APA Group’s size, which accounts for 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles) of pipelines, representing 56 percent of Australia’s gas pipeline transmission system, was among his biggest concerns regarding the bid. The operation also includes three-quarters of all pipeline along the country’s eastern coast.
富来顿伯格表示,APA集团拥有15000公里(9320英里)的管线,占澳大利亚燃气管道输送系统的56%,如此的规模是他对这一收购最大的担忧之一。该企业还占到该国东海岸全部燃气管线的四分之三。
The news comes as the Australian government embarks on a campaign to revitalize relations with Beijing that have been strained since June when the government of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull passed national security legislation that bans foreign interference in politics.
消息传出时,正值澳大利亚政府开始推动恢复与北京的关系。自从今年6月前总理特恩布尔的政府通过国家安全法案,禁止外国干涉内政以来,两国关系一直紧张。
Government officials said at the time that the law was not aimed at any single country but the decision came months after newly released Australian electoral returns showed businesses with links to China had donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to political parties in 2016.
政府官员当时称这一法律并不是针对哪一个国家,但当时新发布的澳大利亚选举报告显示,与中国有关的企业在2016年给一些政党捐了数十万美元,几个月后就出台了修改国家安全法的决定。
In August, the Australian government blocked Chinese technology giant Huawei and another Chinese company, ZTE, from providing equipment to support the country’s new telecommunications networks. Government ministers said at the time that companies that “are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government” posed unacceptable security risks.
今年8月,澳大利亚政府禁止了中国的科技巨头华为和另一家公司中兴向该国供应支持新一代通讯网络的设备。政府部长当时称“极有可能接受外国政府法外指示”的公司会构成不可接受的安全隐患。