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BG Group would sell Contact stake if Origin bid succeeds

Friday 25th July 2008

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BG Group would offload a half-stake in Contact Energy if it succeeds in a takeover of the New Zealand utility's parent, Origin Energy.

The UK energy company put its hostile A$13.8 billion offer for Origin direct to its shareholders after directors of Australia's biggest producer of coal-seam gas rejected the proposal. BG Group would consider distributing the 51.4% Contact stake to Origin's shareholders, it said in a supplementary bidder's statement today.

The Contact stake "does not form part of the strategic rationale for the offer," BG said.

BG Group wants gas for an LNG plant it's developing with Australia's Queensland Gas Co., part of an expanding global LNG business that aims to benefit from rising prices for the fuel. The company yesterday posted record second-quarter earnings of 747 million pounds, because of rising LNG prices and output.

Shares of Contact fell 1.1% to NZ$8.38. The stock has gained about 3% this year, outperforming the NZX 50 Index, which dropped 19%. Origin traded yesterday at A$16.13.

BG Group today said it doesn't currently have any agreement with a third party to divest the Contact shares.

By Jonathan Underhill

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