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BG required to make Contact offer if Origin bid succeeds

Monday 21st July 2008

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BG Group would be required to make a takeover offer for Contact Energy if it succeeds in acquiring Origin Energy, according to the Takeovers Panel.

The panel is seeking expressions of interest from firms wishing to be appointed as an independent expert to verify the value of Contact's stock, should BG Group's offer for the utility's 51.4% owner become unconditional, it said in a statement.

BG Group is bidding A$13.8 billion for Origin, Australia's biggest producer of coal-seam gas, and may seek to use the gas to supply an LNG plant it is developing with Queensland Gas Co. Origin has said the offer undervalues the company and this month urged shareholders to reject the approach.

Any offer for the shares in Contact not already owned must be not less than the sum certified by an independent expert as the value attributed by BG Group in its takeover of Origin, the panel said.

Contact shares rose 1.1% to NZ$7.70 and have fallen about 7% this year, out-performing the NZX 50 Index, which has shed about 24%.

By Jonathan Underhill

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