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Australian regulator to look at UBS over changes to analyst's report

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An Australian regulator said it has requested information from UBS after a senior politician said he had the bank change an analyst's report about a US$13 billion electricity network that it is helping the government sell.

[SYDNEY] An Australian regulator said it has requested information from UBS after a senior politician said he had the bank change an analyst's report about a US$13 billion electricity network that it is helping the government sell.

Mike Baird, the premier of the state of New South Wales who is pushing for the sale of the network, confirmed this month that his office asked sale adviser UBS to reissue an analyst report without a reference to the deal as being "bad for the budget".

The sale of a 49 per cent stake in an electricity transmitter and two power distribution networks for about A$17 billion would be the country's biggest ever privatisation and Baird's campaign to sell it comes ahead of a March 28 election.

On Monday, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission said its chairman, Greg Medcraft, had asked the investment bank to explain its decision to change its analyst report. "UBS was issued notices requiring the bank to provide information over their NSW electricity privatisation report", an spokeswoman for the regulator told Reuters in an email.

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The spokeswoman did not specify what information the watchdog had sought from UBS. UBS declined to comment.

The state's Labor opposition and Greens parties have also seized on Baird's admission, promising to hold a parliamentary inquiry into whether the government of Australia's most populous state interfered with the independence of its adviser's research arm.

REUTERS

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