Origin Energy Ltd., Australia’s No. 2 power producer and energy retailer, backed a non-binding buyout offer worth 18.4 billion Australian dollars (about $16-billion) from a consortium led by Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management, the companies said on Thursday.
The deal sent Origin’s share price soaring nearly 40 per cent in early trade to 8.14 Australian dollars.
Origin opened its books to the consortium after it raised its offer to 9 Australian dollars per share in cash, a near-55-per-cent premium to Origin’s last close of 5.81 Australian dollars. The company said it would recommend shareholders vote in favour of the proposal if no higher bid emerges.
If successful, the takeover would rank as the biggest private-equity-backed buyout of an Australian company and would be the largest deal in the country this year, Refinitiv data show.
The offer will be increased by three cents per share each month if the scheme of arrangement, which requires 75-per-cent shareholder support, is not implemented by May 15 next year, Origin’s statement said.
The bid from Brookfield comes after it was rebuffed earlier this year when it led a $3.5-billion takeover offer for Australia’s top power producer, AGL Energy.
“Our confidence in Origin’s prospects underscored our engagement with the Consortium and delivered a material increase on their initial offer,” Origin chairman Scott Perkins said in a statement.
Origin disclosed for the first time that it had received an initial cash offer of 7.95 Australian dollars apiece in early August from the consortium, which was hiked to between 8.70 and 8.90 Australian dollars per share in mid-September.
Under the indicative proposal submitted on Thursday, Brookfield would acquire Origin’s energy markets business, while MidOcean Energy, the other consortium partner, would take control of Origin’s integrated gas business, including its 27.5-per-cent stake in Australia Pacific LNG (APLNG).
MidOcean is backed by energy investor EIG and in October paid $2.15-billion for Tokyo Gas’s stake in four Australian integrated LNG Projects.
Origin has been looking to speed up its transition to cleaner energy, accelerating the planned shutdown of the country’s biggest coal-fired power plant and selling its gas exploration assets.
“Our business plan includes additional investment of A$20 billion by 2030 to build the required renewable capacity and storage and position Origin as Australia’s leading ‘greentailer,’” Brookfield’s Asia Pacific chief executive officer Stewart Upson said in a statement.
The bid has been made through the Brookfield Global Transition Fund, which is co-run by former Bank of Canada and Bank of England governor Mark Carney and raised $15-billion earlier this year.
The deal requires approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and Foreign Investment Review Board.