An influential Chinese businessman was nominated to the board of Northern Minerals.
Northern Minerals Limited, an Australian rare earths mining company, has delayed its annual general meeting (AGM) to allow regulators to probe the nomination of a Chinese national and investigate whether recent share purchases have been a “covert attempt by Chinese interests to gain control” of the company, the Australian Financial Review (Paywall) reports. The nomination of the Chinese businessman Wu Tao was proposed by the Singapore-based Yuxiao Fund, which owns 9.92 percent of Northern Minerals. Earlier this year, the fund was blocked from raising its ownership of Northern Minerals to 19.9 percent by Treasurer Jim Chalmers. The Board of Directors (PDF) argues that the nominated Wu Tao effectively controls the Yuxiao Fund, which would make his appointment an attempt to sidestep the decision by Chalmers and give the fund a controlling position of the company. The Board has since pushed for an investigation by the Foreign Investment Review Board to determine Wu Tao’s nomination. Northern Minerals has already received regulatory approval to delay the annual meeting accordingly, Reuters reports.
Australia’s wealth in natural resources has attracted attention from countries worldwide. To protect national interests, the government stated it would scrutinize foreign investments in its critical minerals sector more strictly last year, which the Chinese newspaper Global Times reported as directed against the People’s Republic. On national interest grounds, Australia denied a China-linked firm from taking over the financially troubled lithium miner Alita Resources earlier this year. However, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has stated that Australia does not categorically rule out any Chinese investment in the sector.
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