Origin Energy's Top Shareholder Opposes Brookfield's $9.8 Billion Takeover Offer

(Reuters) — Origin Energy's largest shareholder said on Tuesday it plans to vote against a Brookfield-led consortium's A$15.35 billion ($9.78 billion) takeover offer for the company, casting doubt on the bid's future weeks ahead of a shareholder vote on the deal.

AustralianSuper, the country's largest pension fund, owns a 13.68% stake in Origin Energy and said the consortium's offer was "substantially below" its estimate of long-term value for Australia's biggest energy retailer.

The A$300 billion pension fund said the assumptions used in the independent expert's report created an "unrealistically low" valuation, including on its stakes in UK renewable energy group Octopus and Australia Pacific LNG, with valuation multiples well below recent relevant deals.

The deal requires 75% support from the votes cast at a shareholder meeting, scheduled for Nov. 23, meaning AustralianSuper's holding could be enough to scupper the bid if not all shareholders vote.

AustralianSuper, which first went public with its concerns about the price last month, is not alone. Fund manager Perpetual told local media last month the deal undervalued Origin. Perpetual did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Origin shares were down 0.4% early afternoon on Tuesday at A$9.14, but remained well above the $A8.81 offer price. The stock has been trading above the offer price since the deal won approval from the country's competition regulator on Oct. 10.

The high-profile intervention into one of the biggest takeovers this year comes as Australia's A$2.4 trillion pension sector increasingly flexes its muscle at home and overseas thanks to its burgeoning size in financial markets.

Brookfield-consortium's offer price has been deemed fair by an independent expert's report, however, it outlined a "roll forward" calculation that says Origin's shares could be worth an additional 40 Australian cents by the time a potential takeover is due to occur.

The Brookfield-led consortium has given no indications publicly it is considering upping the value of its bid ahead of the shareholder vote.

"No doubt the negotiations between the bidders and key shareholders like AustralianSuper are ongoing," said Max Vickerson, analyst at stockbroker Morgans.

"Given that AusSuper felt the need to go public it suggests that maybe they're not that close to a deal. It's hard to say definitively that the takeover won't happen as someone could still blink before the vote but it's not a good sign."

In opposing the offer, AustralianSuper cited factors including Origin's 27.5% stake in Australia Pacific Liquefied Natural Gas (APLNG), which it said positioned the company to take advantage of "strong global demand" for the super-chilled fuel.

Origin Energy on Tuesday reported a 5% fall in first quarter revenue from APLNG due to lower prices for its LNG.

Brookfield and Origin Energy both declined to comment. Consortium partner EIG's MidOcean Energy did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

($1 = 1.5694 Australian dollars)

Related News


{{ error }}
{{ comment.comment.Name }} • {{ comment.timeAgo }}
{{ comment.comment.Text }}