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Top Origin investor to snub Brookfield’s A$19bn bid

2nd November 2023

By: Bloomberg

  

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Origin Energy’s top investor AustralianSuper said it will reject an improved A$19.4-billion takeover offer from a Brookfield Asset Management-led consortium.

A revised proposal from the group, which includes EIG Global Energy Partners, remains too low, AustralianSuper — which holds about 13.67% of the utility’s shares — said Thursday in an emailed statement.

“The offer from the consortium remains substantially below our estimate of Origin’s long-term value,” Australia’s biggest pension fund, which also rejected a previous proposal, said in the statement. “Origin has a highly strategic portfolio of assets to participate in, and benefit from, the energy transition.”

Brookfield and EIG earlier Thursday raised the value of their proposal by about A$1.2-billion, or 8%, to A$9.53 per share, and the deal had been unanimously recommended by Origin’s board.

Sydney-based Origin and the bidders were not immediately able to comment on AustralianSuper’s decision. Origin’s shares fell as much as 5.8%, the largest intraday decline since December 12.

Origin intends to proceed with a scheduled Nov. 23 vote on the deal, the company said earlier in a statement. The process needs a majority of shareholders to participate and requires 75% of the participants to approve the takeover.

Brookfield and EIG’s revised proposal is a final offer and above a valuation of Origin set out in an independent expert’s report, the bidders said in a separate statement. The new valuation represents a premium of about 70% to Origin’s price when a deal was first proposed last November.

The consortium plans to invest as much as A$30-billion in Origin over 10 years to accelerate the utility’s shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energy, according to Brookfield’s Asia Pacific CEO Stewart Upson.

“With its current funding sources and as a public company, Origin will not to be able to match the level of investment at the scale and speed as it could achieve under Brookfield’s ownership,” Upson said.

Under the deal, Brookfield would acquire Origin’s power generation and electricity retailing business, which serves more than 4.5 million homes and businesses, and currently operates Australia’s biggest coal plant. EIG would add the company’s liquefied natural gas unit, one of Asia’s largest.

Edited by Bloomberg

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