‘Relevance of tax issues to the FIRB process’ - the National Infrastructure Conference

Wendy Rae

Day two of 2017’s National Infrastructure Conference will feature a panel discussion looking at the ‘Relevance of Tax Issues to the Foreign
Investment Review Board Process

Covering the process by which FIRB decisions
are made, it looks at the interaction and engagement between the ATO and FIRB; key
areas of focus from the ATO’s perspective; the impact of Taxpayer Alert TA
2017/1 on FIRB applications; tax conditions – general and special; as well as ATO/FIRB
follow-up post-transaction follow-up by the ATO and FIRB.

Michael D’Ascenzo of the Foreign Investment Review Board will be joined on the panel by Vivian Chang, CTA, (Ashurst) who was involved in
consultation with the Treasury after the release of the FIRB tax conditions and
is a member of the ATO’s Foreign Investment Reforms Working Group, and Peter
Maher (Australian Taxation Office), a Director in the ATO’s Public Groups &
International area and a member of the ATO’s Infrastructure Team. The session
will be facilitated by Wendy Rae of Allens, an M&A specialist with over 20 years'
experience in advising on infrastructure transactions. 

We spoke with Michael and Wendy
about what to expect at the conference.

Following the release of TA 2017/1, Wendy
offered this sneak peek of what delegates can expect from the FIRB panel: 

members will offer their perspectives and insights on the key areas of
interaction between FIRB and the ATO, firstly looking at the broader FIRB
process, secondly the Tax Conditions and finally, tax matters that should be addressed
in FIRB applications. With respect to the hotly debated TA 2017/1 and
subsequent Consultation Paper, Panel members will speak to current approaches
to the regulation of foreign investment through stapled structures adopted by
FIRB and the ATO and the potential implications for ongoing foreign investment
into Australian infrastructure and other major assets.”

Michael D’Ascenzo

Michael said: “The Panel takes on board the comments of all
its consultation partners, but ultimately provides independent advice to the
Treasurer. My objective at the conference is to demystify the role of the
Foreign Investment Review Board with a bias to foreign investment that is not against
the national interest.” Wendy added, “Delegates attending the panel discussion
will come away with a better understanding of the interaction between FIRB and
the ATO, the broader FIRB process and the way in which tax issues should be
managed as part of the FIRB process."

Asked to describe her experience as it relates to the
session and the conference, Wendy told us: “As a M&A specialist with over 20
years' experience in advising on infrastructure transactions, I regularly
advise pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and other investment funds on
government asset sales, competitive bid processes and public M&A
transactions and in that context have navigated clients through a number of
sensitive foreign investment approvals. I am the Deputy Chair of the Foreign
Investment Committee of the Business Section of the Law Council of Australia. I
have been heavily involved in all consultations and submissions relating to the
new FIRB regime, the Tax Conditions and Stapled Structures and regularly meet
with Treasury and Government in relation to these matters.”

Michael said: “I was proud to leave the ATO as perhaps the
leading tax administration globally. After my time as Commissioner of Taxation
I have taken on a few Board roles that have allowed me to make a contribution
in areas of particular interest or national importance. FIRB relates to foreign
investment which is not against the national interest; the Clean Energy
Regulator relates to the on-going global issue of climate change; and my role
as non-executive director at Australia Post dealt with the transformation of
the corporation into a player in the digital economy.” 

You can find out more about this and other sessions, including ‘The
ATO’s Current Approach in Managing Infrastructure and Privatisation Transactions’;
‘Stapled Security Structures and Part IVA’ 
and others on our website.


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