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BG Raises Bid for Pure Energy

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

FEBRUARY 17, 2009, 3:20 A.M. ET

By ROSS KELLY

SYDNEY — BG Group raised its all-cash takeover offer for Pure Energy Resources Ltd. to 995 million Australian dollars (US$645.9 million), topping a rival bid from Royal Dutch Shell’s Australian joint venture partner Arrow Energy Ltd.

Arrow, with Shell, is competing against BG and others for Australia’s coal seam gas reserves ahead of planned construction of up to five liquefied natural gas processing plants at Gladstone in Queensland state.

BG’s sweetened offer of A$8 cash a share for Pure trumps Arrow’s recently sweetened offer of A$3 and 1.57 of its shares per Pure share, which at the close of trading Tuesday represented an offer of A$7.29 a share.

Pure said only that it is reviewing BG’s revised offer and advised shareholders to take no action.

BG said it has already received Foreign Investment Review Board approval for its proposed takeover of Pure and declared its offer unconditional.

Arrow declined to say if it was prepared to lift its bid.

“We believe Arrow’s offer continues to be excellent value for Pure shareholders,” Arrow’s chief executive, Nick Davies, said in a statement. “The Arrow [stock] component provides significant upside for Pure shareholders.”

If Arrow returns with a counterbid, it will be the second time BG has forced it to raise the stakes in what is becoming a protracted bidding war for Brisbane-based Pure.

Arrow sold 30% of its CSG reserves to Shell last year and the two have already agreed to provide coal seam gas to a smaller-scale LNG plant to be built by LNG Ltd.

Shell has it own LNG plans, announcing last week that it is studying the feasibility of building a processing facility at Gladstone to be fed by Arrow’s reserves.

Both BG and Arrow have indicated they don’t need to acquire Pure to support their LNG aspirations, with some analysts speculating that BG is bidding for Pure only to spoil Shell’s plans.

Credit Suisse energy analyst Andrew Williams said Arrow’s reserves position would be “tight” without securing a takeover of Pure. “It will be constrained by a lack of short-term reserves cover and we still perceive significant risks with the LNG Ltd. project option,” he said in a client note.

For BG, Mr. Williams said the proved, probable and possible reserve levels of Pure Energy would “underpin a final investment decision on its LNG option… practically now.”

Pure Energy shares jumped 12% Tuesday to A$8.36, above BG’s A$8 offer price, showing some investors expect an even higher offer to emerge. Arrow shares added 1.9% to A$2.78 on speculation it could be a target. The broader market fell 1.5%.

J.P. Morgan energy analyst Mark Greenwood said Shell could consider making a takeover bid for Arrow. “But Arrow’s acreage is largely held outside the highly productive areas of the Bowen and Surat Basins, which would reduce the economies of coal seam gas to LNG,” he said.

Origin Energy Ltd. and CononcoPhillips also want to build an LNG plant at Gladstone.

Write to Ross Kelly at [email protected]

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