Australian utility Alinta sold to Chow Tai Fook Enterprises for A$4 billion

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, a Hong Kong-based company controlled by the Cheng family, has agreed to buy Australian utility Alinta Energy Holdings for more than A$4 billion (S$4.38 billion), according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The company will buy 100 per cent of Alinta from its owners, including buyout firm TPG Capital, the people said, asking not to be identified as details are private. Alinta confirmed the sale in an emailed statement, without mentioning a price.

The Cheng family controls a conglomerate that operates one of Hong Kong's biggest property developers, runs the Carlyle Hotel in New York City and operates a chain of jewellery stores that generates about 80 per cent more revenue than Tiffany & Co globally. Today, the family controls four listed companies with a total market value of more than US$25 billion (S$35 billion), as well as some that are closely held.

In selling to Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, Alinta's owners have abandoned a plan to sell the Australian company through an initial public offering this year. The IPO was delayed last year due to market volatility following the US election. TPG and more than 30 lenders, including Oaktree Capital Group LLC, took control of Alinta as part of a debt-for-equity swap.

The sale is subject to approval by Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board, Alinta said in the statement, adding the process has already commenced. Chow Tai Fook Enterprises "already has significant investments in Australia in real estate and integrated resorts" and Alinta will be its first significant investment in the energy sector in Australia, according to the statement.

Mr Jeff Dimery will continue as Alinta chief executive officer and the existing senior management team will also be retained, Alinta said.