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Reuters: Shell sure it will get rest of Canada unit’s stock

Mon Mar 19, 2007 2:04PM EDT

CALGARY, Alberta, March 19 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research), fresh from acquiring most of its Canadian unit’s minority shares in a going-private bid, is certain it will scoop up the rest in the second quarter, the oil major said on Monday.

Royal Dutch Shell said on Saturday investors holding more than 53 percent of the minority shares of Shell Canada Ltd. (SHC.TO: Quote, Profile, Research) had accepted its C$45 a share offer, meeting the minimum condition for the C$8.7 billion ($7.4 billion) bid.

It extended the offer for the Canadian oil sands producer, natural gas explorer and oil refiner to March 30 after saying its interest totals 89.6 percent.

“Shell is now sure that we will be able to secure 100 percent of the outstanding shares,” spokeswoman Alexandra Wright said from London.

Some Canadian institutional investors had said before the initial Friday bid expiry that they had no intention of selling out for C$45 a share, arguing the bid undervalued Shell Canada’s prospects.

Those prospects include an expansion of its Alberta oil sands mining operation that could cost as much as C$12.8 billion. It is also a big player in early-stage steam-driven oil sands drilling developments and the proposed Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline in the Arctic.

Shell first announced its intentions to take its majority-owned affiliate private in October, saying it would offer C$40 a share. It raised the bid by C$5 in January.

If the Anglo-Dutch oil major can get above the 90 percent threshold for its unit’s stock, the process for acquiring the rest will be shorter, Wright said. That would involve using a compulsory acquisition notice.

If not, Shell Canada may have to hold a meeting for shareholders to vote.

“Given the number of shares we have already secured we are certain of a vote at that meeting in favor of the transaction,” said Wright.

Shell Canada shares were up 28 Canadian at C$44.96 in afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

($1=$1.18 Canadian)

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