‘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: 

“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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