29 Jun 2012

China 'likely to invest' in NZ energy firms

9:33 am on 29 June 2012

A specialist on China expects its state-owned companies to bid for shares in the Government's partial privatisation of energy companies.

Dr John Lee of Sydney University, a past expert witness to American congressional hearings on China's economy, says the country is looking for stable infrastructure companies to invest in.

But he says links between its state-owned enterprises and the Communist Party means it has been blocked in some countries and is being forced to look further afield.

The Green Party fears that New Zealand's intellectual property will be at risk of Chinese state-owned enterprises buy significant stakes in power companies.

Co-leader Russel Norman says China's intellectual property laws lag behind those in the West.

Dr Norman fears valuable expertise in areas such as geothermal generation could go to the Chinese government.

A New Zealand investment banker in Beijing, David Mahon, says intellectual property law in China is still developing.

But he says that doesn't mean Chinese companies have fewer scruples than their Western counterparts.

Mr Mahon says investors in New Zealand are subject to the law here and that should provide ample protection.