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Country's biggest energy retailer in the wind

Friday 4th August 2000

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NGC has made a move to buy out the minority shareholders in TransAlta New Zealand, which could pave the way for a merger to create the country's largest energy retailer.

NGC is offering $2.79c per share, the same price it paid to buy out majority shareholder TransAlta Energy Corporation of Canada.

Analysts criticised the price NGC's major shareholder Australian Gas Light paid for TransAlta Canada's 75.8% stake in TransAlta as too high if it was not going to lead to the savings of a merger between the two companies.

If they did join they would have a market capitalisation of $1.2 billion and more than 650,000 electricity and gas customers.

NGC proposes to acquire the remaining 59.7 million TransAlta shares for $2.79 each, with payment either by a share swap for NGC shares or by cash. Proceeding with the takeover is conditional upon the Hutt Mana Energy Trust, which has a 14.6% interest in TransAlta, accepting the offer for its shares. The trust first has to consult its beneficiaries.

NGC also needs the approval of the Overseas Investment Commission.
NGC chairman Len Bleasel said the company respected the trust's obligation to consult with its beneficiaries and was hopeful it would be in a position to respond next month.

Mr Bleasel said if the trust accepted the takeover offer, NGC had agreed to a number of provisions including the creation of a retail advisory panel for consumers in areas covering the trust's beneficiaries.

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