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CLP Holdings faces $718 mln claim in Australia over gas plant sale

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  1. MELBOURNE, May 19 (Reuters) - Hong Kong's CLP Holdings Ltd 0002.HK said on Friday it was being sued for up to A$967 million ($718 million) in damages over the sale of a gas plant to a consortium led by one of Australia's largest institutional fund managers, Queensland Investment Corp (QIC).

    CLP said Lochard Energy, owned by the QIC consortium, was seeking damages of A$967 million or A$780 million, alleging that certain information provided when CLP unit EnergyAustralia sold Lochard a gas plant was "incomplete or misleading".

    Lochard bought the Iona plant for A$1.78 billion in December 2015.

    EnergyAustralia said it would vigorously defend the claims, and CLP said its view was that "a material outflow of economic benefits from the CLP Group is unlikely".

    The dispute over the gas plant in the state of Victoria has erupted just as Australia's eastern gas market is facing soaring prices and a potential gas shortfall within the next 18 months that has alarmed the federal government.

    EnergyAustralia said it has worked closely with Lochard Energy ever since the plant was sold and would continue to do so, despite the court case, to ensure reliable and affordable supplies of gas.

    "We do, however, wish to stress our absolute confidence in our position on this matter and make clear that the phrase 'vigorously defend' is not a cliché," EnergyAustralia said in an emailed statement.

    The company declined to comment further as the matter is now before the Supreme Court of Victoria.

    Lochard had no comment, and a spokeswoman for QIC was not immediately available for comment.

    ($1 = 1.3473 Australian dollars)

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