* Treasurer says sale wouldn't be financially beneficial
* Critics said a sale would reduce corporate transparency
(Adds context, opponent comment)
By Colin Packham
Dec 19 Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison on
Monday said the privatisation of a corporate registry would not
be financially beneficial, shelving a plan which opponents
argued would reduce transparency for millions of privately held
The government last year said it planned to sell the
Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
registry, which analysts estimated to be worth up to A$4 billion
The registry was widely seen as a valuable asset given it
has low running costs but generates strong returns through
customers paying for company searches, analysts said.
It attracted six bids earlier this year but Morrison said
the sale would not raise enough money.
"Thorough evaluation of final private sector bids received
showed that it would not deliver net financial benefit for the
Commonwealth," Morrison told reporters in Canberra after
releasing the government's mid-year budget review.
Morrison's statement was welcomed by critics who had argued
the sale would reduce the transparency of private companies, and
allow a new owner to raise prices beyond the reach of many.
"They have made the right decision for the wrong reasons,"
Nick Xenophon, an independent senator, told Reuters.
"The right reason would have been because of the disastrous
impact for corporate oversight, not because they couldn't get a
high enough price."
A sale would have been part of a privatisation program aimed
at helping the government cut its budget deficit. Morrison on
Monday said the deficit would exceed initial forecasts by about
A$10 billion over the next four years.
($1 = 1.3704 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Colin Packham in SYDNEY; Editing by Gopakumar
Warrier and Christopher Cushing)