Call for scru­tiny on Chi­nese deals

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - HE­LEN KEMP­TON

CANBERRA’S con­di­tional ap­proval of a Chi­nese bid for lo­cal baby food maker Bel­lamy’s has sparked calls for Trea­surer Josh Fry­den­berg to clamp down on the Chi­nese com­pany which now owns Tas­ma­nia’s big­gest dairy farm.

Sen­a­tor Jac­qui Lam­bie says the Gov­ern­ment’s ap­proval of China Meng­niu Dairy Com­pany's pro­posed $1.5 bil­lion takeover of Bel­lamy’s showed Aus­tralia “rolls over like a dog” when­ever the com­mu­nist coun­try opens its cheque book.

Greens Sen­a­tor Peter Whish-Wil­son called the loom­ing takeover of an­other Tas­ma­nian dairy com­pany ‘re­gret­table” and he wel­comed Mr Fry­den­berg’s de­ci­sion to im­pose en­force­able con­di­tions on the deal.

He now wants Mr Fry­den­berg to im­pose en­force­able con­di­tions ret­ro­spec­tively on Moon Lake In­vest­ment’s takeover of VDL Com­pany in 2016.

The con­di­tions placed on the Bel­lamy’s deal in­clude that the ma­jor­ity of board mem­bers be Aus­tralian res­i­dent cit­i­zens, that the com­pany keep its head­quar­ters in Aus­tralia for the next decade at least and that Meng­niu Dairy spend up­ward of $12 mil­lion up­grad­ing its pro­cess­ing plant in Vic­to­ria.

“This move from the Trea­surer clearly ac­knowl­edges the prob­lems with the pre­vi­ous con­tro­ver­sial VDL’s ap­proval where prom­ises were vol­un­tary and have not been im­ple­mented,” Sen­a­tor Wh ishW i lson said.

“I have re­peat­edly writ­ten to the Trea­surer re­gard­ing Moon Lake In­vest­ments not meet­ing its vol­un­tary un­der­tak­ings and I out­lined to the Senate in a mo­tion in July the process to im­pose ad­di­tional con­di­tions on Moon Lake In­vest­ments to make them come good on their promised $100 mil­lion in­vest­ment and 95 new jobs.

“Mr Fry­den­berg should do the right thing by Tas­ma­nian com­mu­ni­ties and be con­sis­tent in ap­ply­ing the ap­proach he has taken with Bel­lamy’s to VDL.”

Sen­a­tor Lam­bie said the For­eign In­vest­ment Re­view Board was not act­ing in Aus­tralia’s in­ter­ests.

“It seems that ev­ery time FIRB makes a de­ci­sion it weak­ens our na­tional food se­cu­rity,” she said. “And ev­ery time com­mu­nist Chi­nese open their cheque book we roll over like a dog.”

Fed­eral MP An­drew Wilkie said it was im­por­tant the Bel­lamy’s deal did not mir­ror what had hap­pened at VDL’s Wool­north op­er­a­tion.

“For­eign buy­ers promised the world but failed to de­liver on just about any of it. To that end, the FIRB must be sure that the Bel­lamy’s ap­proval is ac­com­pa­nied by an iron-clad guar­an­tee that Aus­tralian jobs will be main­tained, and that the con­tin­ued sup­ply of baby for­mula to Aus­tralian mar­kets is not in­ter­rupted,” Mr Wilkie said.

Mr Fry­den­berg said he, like the re­view board, had con­cluded the Bel­lamy’s acquisitio­n was “not con­trary to the na­tional in­ter­est.”

“The con­di­tional ap­proval demon­strates our for­eign in­vest­ment rules can fa­cil­i­tate such an acquisitio­n while giv­ing as­sur­ance to the com­mu­nity that de­ci­sions are be­ing made in a way which en­sures that Aus­tralia’s na­tional in­ter­est is pro­tected,” he said.

“These con­di­tions are en­force­able un­der the For­eign Ac­qui­si­tions and Takeovers Act 1975 and penal­ties apply to for­eign in­vestors that do not com­ply with their obli­ga­tions.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.