SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s Pure Energy PES.AX unanimously recommended that shareholders accept Britain’s BG Group’s BG.L sweetened offer of A$995 million (448 million pounds), or A$8 per share, aimed at trumping a rival bid linked to Royal Dutch Shell.
Pure’s independent directors and at least two key stakeholders plan to accept the offer within seven days in the absence of a higher one, Pure said in a statement.
BG raised its offer for the Australian coal seam gas firm by 25 percent on Tuesday, potentially igniting a bidding war with Shell (RDSa.L) and other rivals keen to buy Pure to secure feedstock for liquefied natural gas projects.
BG trumped an offer from Shell’s Australian partner Arrow Energy AOE.AX.
A London-based spokesman for Royal Dutch Shell said: “We’re aware of the revised offer and we’re continuing to evaluate it, but we don’t have any further comment to make.”
Pure said key shareholders Tom Fontaine and Karl Meade, who own 5 percent and 3 percent of Pure’s stock respectively, will accept BG’s offer, also on condition no higher one is proposed.
Pure values BG’s offer at 11 percent above the A$7.18 per share implied value of Arrow’s offer of $3 and 1.57 of its shares for every Pure share.
Global oil giants, including U.S. major ConocoPhillips (COP.N) and Malaysia’s Petronas PETR.UL, have poured about A$20 billion into Australia’s coal seam gas companies since last year to secure reserves to feed a global rise in LNG demand.
Demand for LNG, which is gas frozen as liquid for export in ships, is forecast to more than double by 2020 amid an increase in energy consumption and demand for cleaner-burning fuels.
As of Tuesday, BG held a 9.7 percent stake in Pure. Arrow held 19.9 percent in Pure and Shell 11.2 percent.
Arrow last week sweetened its cash-and-shares bid offer Pure, first launched in December, after an initial counterbid from BG.
BG is being advised by Gresham Advisory Partners, while Goldman Sachs JBWere Pty is advising Pure and Wilson HTM Corporate Finance is advising Arrow.
($1=1.566 Australian Dollar)
Reporting by James Regan and Philip Waller; Editing by Anshuman Daga and Rupert Winchester