Bidders are lining up for the $13 billion NSW electricity network privatisation, with a new consortium featuring Middle East sovereign wealth funds and a Canadian pension fund among the contenders.
Australian investment group Spark Infrastructure and manager Hastings Fund Management are understood to have joined Canadian pension fund CDPQ, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Wren House, the investment arm of the Kuwaiti Investment Authority in a consortium to bid for the power assets.
Spark Infrastructure, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, holds stakes in electricity networks in Victoria and South Australia.
The Australian newspaper reported on Tuesday that ASX-listed energy company AusNet, which owns assets in Victoria, is also understood to be a potential bidder, while other media have reported China Southern Grid, China Investment Corporation and Global Infrastructure partners have formed a consortium.
NSW Premier Mike Baird secured a mandate for his plan to privatise 49 per cent of the state's "poles and wires" after his March 28 election win.
The controversial privatisation, via a 99-year-lease, faces hurdles including a parliamentary inquiry foreshadowed by upper house MP Fred Nile, whose support is essential for the plan to proceed.