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Australia blocks Hong Kong bid for gas pipeline giant

AFP  |  Sydney 

on Wednesday blocked a bid of more than USD9 billion from Hong Kong giant for the country's biggest company, saying it would be against its "national interest".

The preliminary decision by is the latest in a series of rejections by over foreign purchases of Australian infrastructure and land as leaders grow increasingly concerned about Beijing's influence.

It comes at a sensitive time, with currently in for meetings with her counterpart -- the first visit of its kind in almost three years.

The visit has been billed as a sign that both governments are keen to ease recent political tensions.

Relations have been strained over allegations that was interfering in Australian domestic politics and using donations to gain access. Frydenberg said the proposed Aus$13 billion (USD 9.4 billion) purchase of "would be contrary to the national interest".

"I have formed this view on the grounds that it would result in an undue concentration of foreign ownership by a single group in our most significant business," he said in a statement.

has 15,000 kilometres of pipelines representing 56 percent of Australia's transmission system.

Frydenberg said there were national interest implications for having "such a dominant foreign player" in the gas and in the long term.

He is set to announced his final decision as part of a formal process within two weeks.

The stressed that Australia's foreign investment policy was not discriminating against any investor and country, and that his decision was not an adverse reflection on

-- which together with and is part of the bidding consortium -- already owns Australian interests including power provider

The acquisition would have been the latest in a string of takeovers in recent years by CK Infrastructure in Australia, including last year and in 2014.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, November 07 2018. 14:35 IST