BG gets one month to make Contact bid

THE New Zealand Takeovers Panel has granted BG Group an exemption from any requirement to make an immediate takeover offer for New Zealand utility Contact Energy if it succeeds in acquiring Origin Energy, which owns 51.36% of Contact.

However, BG will still be required to make a cash bid for Contact within one month of the Origin offer becoming unconditional.

The bid would have to be at the value per share attributed to Contact by BG Group in the price payable for Origin shares.

The value of the Contact bid would have to be verified by an independent expert approved by the panel and the offer would then need Overseas Investment Office approval.

If Origin's shareholding in Contact falls below 20% at the time of BG's successful acquisition of the Australian company, BG would not be obliged to make a follow-on offer.

BG said its proposed price of $14.70 per share for Origin did not attribute any premium to the market price of Contact shares.

BG is believed to be much more interested in Origin's Australian assets than its New Zealand assets, which include Contact, the Kupe gas and condensate development and several exploration permits.