Oil Report

UPDATE 1-SP AusNet confirms class action suit, shares fall

(Recasts, adds details)

PERTH, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Australian energy firm SP AusNet, controlled by Singapore Power, said it was facing a class-action lawsuit relating to the country’s deadliest bushfires which killed 181 people and destroyed thousands of homes.

SP AusNet SPN.AX said an action was launched on Monday in the Supreme Court of the eastern state of Victoria from groups which alleged that faulty power lines owned by SP AusNet may have sparked Australia's deadliest bushfires.

“We believe the claim is premature and inappropriate ... SP AusNet will vigorously defend the claim,” SP AusNet’s spokeswoman Louisa Graham said in an e-mailed statement.

The company said its bushfire mitigation and vegetation management programmes comply with state regulations and were audited annually by state agencies.

Shares in SP AusNet closed 3.7 percent lower at A$1.045 on Monday, after earlier falling as much as 13.4 percent to a one-month low of A$0.94. The broader market index .AXJO declined 1.2 percent.

SP AusNet supplies power to areas in Victoria state where fires killed at least 181 people just over a week ago, destroyed more than 1,800 homes and left 7,000 people homeless. (Reporting by Fayen Wong; Editing by Anshuman Daga)