[SYDNEY] Australia's New South Wales state said it plans to raise A$20 billion (US$16.24 billion) by leasing or selling 49 per cent of its electricity network, enabling it to pay for a second Sydney Harbour rail crossing and several road upgrades.
The network's partial sale would be among the biggest privatisations of an Australian state-owned asset on record.
State Treasurer Andrew Constance said the plan, to proceed if the government is re-elected in a ballot scheduled for March, would create more than 100,000 jobs and boost the economy by almost A$300 billion over the next two decades.
The government of Australia's most populous state hired investment banks UBS AG and Deutsche Bank AG to do a scoping study into how to sell its "poles and wires" business.
That study recommended the sale as it was "likely to attract a broad range of domestic and international investors", Constance said in a statement.
The deal had been widely expected to fetch about A$20 billion but Constance confirmed this figure for the first time on Thursday.
Australian governments have earmarked some A$130 billion of mature infrastructure assets to sell to pay for much-needed capital works in the next two years, as they struggle to attract revenue following the end of a mining investment boom.