Contact not interested in EME assets

Contact Energy has decided against bidding for any Australian assets of Edison Mission Energy, including EME's stakes in the Western Australia Kwinana gas-fired station and the Victorian coal-fired Loy Yang B plant.

Wellington-headquartered Contact, already 51% owned by cash-strapped EME, said today that after reviewing EME's proposed sale process, its independent directors had decided Contact would not participate in any EME sales "at this time".

A factor in the directors' decision was the realisation that Contact's formal participation as a bidder for EME's Aussie assets, while EME was seeking to sell its stake in Contact, introduced a whole range of complex issues.

The independent directors believed this could hinder the sought-after swift and orderly resolution of uncertainty regarding ownership of Contact.

Contact chairman Phil Pryke said his company continued to view Australia positively and would review potential acquisition opportunities, that fitted its strategy of building an integrated energy business, at a more appropriate time.

Earlier this year Contact said it was interested in potential acquisition opportunities arising from EME's planned divestment, after EME announced it was looking to sell all or part of its international operations, primarily to satisfy conditions attached to last November's securing of an US$800 million bridging finance loan.

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