Australia blocks Ausgrid energy grid sale to Chinese companies

Australia has blocked the sale of Ausgrid, the country’s biggest energy grid, to two Chinese companies over security concerns.

Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison officially rejected the bid by the two firms to buy a 50.4 per cent stake in Ausgrid.

The sale had already been put on hold last week, a decision which had drawn much criticism from China.

On Friday, Mr Morrison said selling the grid to foreign investors would be against the national interest.

“After due consideration of responses from bidders to my preliminary view of 11 August 2016, I have decided that the acquisition by foreign investors under the current proposed structure of the lease of 50.4 per cent of Ausgrid, the New South Wales electricity distribution network, would be contrary to the national interest,” he said in a statement.

“This is consistent with the recommendation from the Foreign Investment Review Board.”

Blocking the sale is expected to widen the rift between the two countries, with China accusing Australia of bowing to protectionist sentiment.