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Nsw government to sell ausgrid for 16bn to australian consortium

THE NSW Government will sell the state’s electricity distributor to an all-Australian consortium after a previous bid by a duo of Chinese firms was knocked backed on security grounds.

Premier Mike Baird on Thursday announced poles and wires operator Ausgrid will be sold for $16.189 billion to a consortium of IFM Investors and superannuation fund AustralianSuper.

Mr Baird said the sale would help fund $20bn of new infrastructure projects in the state.

Our poles and wires transactions are unlocking billions of dollars to fund new schools, hospitals, public transport and roads that will make a real difference to peoples lives, he said.

Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian said that as the bidders were home grown there was no-need for approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

This is an outstanding result and it is great to see a completely Australian consortium investing in this asset, Ms Berejiklian said.

In August, Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison rejected the proposed $16bn sale of NSWs poles and wires to a consortium of Chinas State Grid and Hong Kong based Cheung Kong Infrastructure due to security concerns.

This was despite the FIRB clearing the deal and State Grid already having stakes in several Australian power firms including the ACTs ActewAGL distribution and Victorias Aus Net.

Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said the decision to deny the Chinese firms a controlling stake in Ausgrid was not about the bidder themselves but about the asset up for sale, and whether it was a Chinese or Canadian bidder would not have made a difference.

Cheung Kong owns a majority stake in power distributors in Victoria and South Australia.

Formerly NSW-owned power retailer EnergyAustralia is owned by Hong Kong-based China Light and Power.

Canberras blocking of the previous deal caught the Mike Baird led NSW Government off guard and raised questions about overuses investment in Australian companies.

With the two Chinese companies blocked, it opened the door for other firms to make rival and cheaper bids for Ausgrid.

Names in the frame included the Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC), AMP Capital and Hastings Funds Management, as well as the US-based Global Infrastructure Partners.

The NSW Government will retain a 49.6 per cent of Ausgrid and will have an ongoing role as the lessor of the business and an investor. Ausgrid will continue to be regulated by the Australian Energy Regulator which determines network prices.

Russia hacks us election putin supervised cyber attacks

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin supervised his intelligence agencies’ hacking of the US presidential election and turned it from a general effort to discredit the process to a specific attempt to support Donald Trump, three US officials claim.

Accusations that Russia tried to influence the election by hacking people and institutions, including Democratic Party bodies, have angered President-elect Trump who says he won the November 8 vote fairly.

Russian officials have denied all accusations of interference in the US election.

But the US officials said on the condition of anonymity that the US intelligence community is confident its assessment of Russian cyber attacks on the election is accurate.

This began merely as an effort to show that American democracy is no more credible than Putins version is, one of the officials said.

It gradually evolved from that to publicising (Hillary) Clintons shortcomings and ignoring the products of hacking Republican institutions, which the Russians also did, the official said.

By autumn, the official said, it became an effort to help Trumps campaign because Putin believed he would be much friendlier to Russia, especially on the matter of economic sanctions than Democratic rival Ms Clinton.

NBC reported earlier that US intelligence officials have a high level of confidence Mr Putin was personally involved in the Russian cyber campaign against the United States.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told state TV channel Rossiya-24 that he was dumbstruck by the NBC report.

Mr Trump has brushed off reports of Russian hacking of US political institutions.

If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost? Mr Trump wrote in a post on Twitter overnight.

When asked about the NBC report, Trump transition team spokesman Jason Miller said: Ill let the president-elects tweets speak for themselves. But Id say the continued efforts to try to delegitimize the election ... at a certain point, youve got to realise the election from last month has got to stand.

In October, the US government formally accused Russia of a campaign of cyber attacks against US political organisations ahead of the election.

Mr Obama said he warned his Russian counterpart about consequences and last week ordered a review by the US intelligence agencies.

Having openly challenged President Vladimir Putin, Khodorkovsky was arrested, convicted, his oil company, Yukos, seized and his pro democracy efforts curtailed.