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Shell, PetroChina Bid for Arrow Energy Wins Approval

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By James Paton

April 30 (Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc and PetroChina Co. received approval from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board to acquire gas producer Arrow Energy Ltd. in a A$3.5 billion ($3.3 billion) transaction.

The decision follows clearance from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and allows the companies to seek regulatory approval in China, Brisbane-based Arrow said in a statement today to the Australian stock exchange.

Shell and PetroChina agreed in March to buy Arrow’s Australian business for A$4.70 a share in cash. Arrow investors will also receive shares in a new company, Dart Energy Ltd., which will hold the explorer’s overseas gas assets and Arrow’s stakes in Australian-listed companies. The acquisition will give Shell and PetroChina control of Australia’s largest holder of permits to extract gas from coal seams.

Following the “euphoria” surrounding the initial bid and increased offer, the deal has moved into an approvals and implementation phase, Adrian Wood, an analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd. in Sydney, said in a report today before the announcement.

Arrow traded 0.4 percent higher at A$5.17 at 12:17 p.m. in Sydney, compared with the 0.6 percent advance in the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index.

Shareholder approval is the “key” remaining hurdle, he said. Arrow shareholders are due to vote on the offer in mid- July and are likely to support the transaction, Wood said.

Shell is planning a liquefied natural gas project on Curtis Island off the central Queensland coast. A development decision on the venture is expected by 2012, Shell said in March. More than a dozen LNG projects in Australia are targeting Asian demand for cleaner-burning alternatives to coal.

“The approval of the Foreign Investment Review Board is another step towards Shell and PetroChina being able to invest the funds required to further develop Queensland’s CSG-to-LNG industry,” Shell said in a statement today.

–Editors: John Viljoen, Ang Bee Lin.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Paton in Sydney [email protected].

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at [email protected].

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