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Shell may have to raise bid for Arrow Energy

Daily Telegraph

Arrow Energy is likely to reject Royal Dutch Shell and PetroChina’s joint A$3.3bn (£2bn) bid for the group as too low, analysts believe.

By Garry White
Published: 5:30AM GMT 16 Mar 2010

A stream of analyst comments and silence on the offer from the Australian coal-seam gas group has fuelled expectations that Arrow will reject the bid and the two parties will have to come in with a higher – and hostile – offer. Last week, Shell and PetroChina offered A$4.45 in cash for each Arrow share, plus a share in a new, international Arrow entity.

Nik Burns, a Melbourne-based analyst at RBS Morgans, said that the companies may have to sweeten their bid to as much as A$5 a share, with John Young, an analyst at Wilson HTM Investment Group, saying that the offer may have to be increased further still. “My view is that they will need to raise their offer to the high A$5-A$6 range for the deal to go through, Mr Wilson said.”

Analysts said the offer values Arrow’s proven and probable reserves at A$0.88 a gigajoule, much lower than an average A$1.88 a gigajoule for 20 offers in Australia since 2005. This includes BG Group’s purchase of Queensland Gas in 2008.

Shell already owns 30pc of Arrow’s Queensland coal-seam gas holdings, so if the bid went though, Shell would own 65pc of Arrow’s exploration and production licenses, with PetroChina owning 35pc. The deal will be subject to approval by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board.

The offer for Arrow comes as Shell prepares today to update the market on its future strategy. As the battle for production growth continues between the world’s oil majors, speculation is mounting that the Anglo-Dutch group could be set to announce plans to increase production every year until 2020 as a pipeline of 20 projects comes on stream.

Related: Chinese demand spurs Shell bid for Arrow’s coal gas

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