Ranking the 12 biggest foreign investors in OZ

March 27, 2022

Here is an attempt to rank the 12 largest foreign investors in Australia.

1. Rio Tinto: Has 16 different entries on our 50 foreign-owned major resource projects list and given the coal and iron ore boom, plus the BHP-Billiton takeover bid, the total value in Australia is thought to now exceed $100 billion.

2. Xstrata: Has 12 of our big 50 on the foreign-owned major resource projects list and the MIM assets alone are now thought to be worth at least $20 billion. Add on the likes of Jubilee and Resource Pacific, plus various other coal acquisitions and the Swiss giant is pushing $50 billion in assets Down Under.

3. Brookfield: bought Ausnet for $18 billion in early 2022 and then backed this up with an $8 billion bid for AGL which quickly lapsed. Also snapped up many of the old Babcock & Brown assets and also took over construction giant Multiplex.
4. Singapore Government: owns more Australian business assets than our own government with the $14 billion Optus play and about $12 billion spent on power utilities being the biggest chunks in an overall portfolio that now exceeds $30 billion. However, in early 2022 it did sell its 30% stake in Ausnet to Brookfield.

5. Chinese Government: buying 9% of Rio Tinto for $16 billion equates to putting about $9 billion into Australian assets. China Iron & Steel also owns 40% of the Channar iron ore mine in the Pilbara, Shanghai Boasteel Steel has 46% of Rio Tinto's Eastern Range iron ore mine, CNOOC has 25% of the more recently developed LNG component of the North West Shelf, CITIC has 20% of Macarthur Coal and 22.5% of the Portland Aluminium smelter and a raft of smaller plays such as iron ore hopefuls Mt Gibson, Mid West and Gindalbie suggest a total investment worth more than $20 billion.

6. Mitsui: the Japanese trading house has a range of interests including 49% of the big Dawson Central (formerly Moura) coal mine in Queensland which does 10mtpa, 20% of Krestel (Arco's former Gordonstone coal mine), 16% of Liddell in the Hunter Valley, 33% of the huge Mesa J iron-ore mine in the Pilbara, 5% of BHP's legendary Mt Newman iron ore mine, 7% of BHP's Yandi Pilbara mine, 33% of the Rio-operated West Angelas iron ore mine and 8.38% of the North West Shelf. This lot would now be worth more than $20 billion.

7. Hutchison/CKI: Li Ka-shing's sprawling empire has spent at least $10 billion on businesses such as 3 mobile phones, various power utilities and port operations, along with a major stake in TPG.

8. Asahi: bought CUB for $16 billion in 2020, adding to its existing Schweppes Australia operation.

9. Anglo American: initially bought well taking on Shell's coal assets which when combined with other mines produce a portfolio worth at least $15 billion.

10. Mitsubishi Corp: Japan's biggest trading house has a 50% stake in seven lucrative central Queensland mines run by BHP, plus 8.38% of the North West Shelf which is together worth more than $10 billion.

11. Exxon-Mobil: 50% stake in Bass Strait is in decline but also has 25% of Gorgon and the downstream petroleum business, suggesting a total value of more than $10 billion.

12. Shell: despite selling out of Woodside, it still owns a direct 16.67% stake in the North West Shelf and 25% of Gorgon, although it has also disposed of its refining and retail business.