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Is Royal Dutch Shell plc (ADR), BG Group plc (BRGYY) Merger Under Threat?

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By: Micheal KaufmanOct 22, 2015

Royal Dutch Shell plc. (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) and BG Group plc.’s (ADR) (OTCMKTS:BRGYY) merger is faced with another setback, as the Australian antitrust regulator, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) now expects to make a decision by November 19. The commission announced on October 22, that the additional time will allow a more detailed review of the proposed acquisition.

The ACCC, earlier in September, had indicated that it will disclose its decision on the merger after two months. However, the regulatory authority has now decided to delay it by another two weeks. The delay in September had come amid ACCC’s concerns of Shell and BG’s overlapping businesses in Eastern Australia, which may limit competition.

Shell jointly owns the world’s largest underdeveloped gas reserves with PetroChina Company Limited (ADR) (NYSE:PTR). The joint venture was initially decided on, to develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant. However, Shell dropped the idea later on; it started identifying ways to supply to BG’s Queensland Curtis LNG plant. The Australian regulatory authority is worried that Shell, instead of supplying gas to the local market, will sell it to BG’s Queensland plant for exports.

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The Shell-BG merger deal was finalized in April; Shell decided to pay $70 billion with a more than 50% premium for the gas major. However, despite the deal being approved by both the companies, the merger is being scrutinized by regulatory authorities in various countries where both companies have operations. The merger has received approval from the European Union, Brazil, and the US. However, Australia and China are yet to give a green signal to the merger.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Shell is still optimistic about the approval from Australia. The company feels that in the long-term, the merger will benefit Australian customers and will soon be approved.

This is the second time when the Australian authorities have delayed the merger. Bidness Etc believes that Shell is likely to be threatened by the commission to sell additional assets. Another example of companies engaging in asset sales is the Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL) and Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE:BHI) merger. Both entities announced in September that they will sell additional businesses. The combined revenue from all of these businesses amounted to $5.2 billion in 2013. While Shell believes that the merger remains on track for completion in 2016, such delays may hinder the company from achieving the target.

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