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Shell merger with BG Group gets green light from China

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By Rebecca Burn-Callander8:01AM GMT 14 Dec 2015

Shell’s £55bn takeover of BG has been cleared by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), giving the deal the green light to go ahead.

This was the final regulatory hurdle standing in the way of the deal. China’s blessing follows success with regulators in Australia, the US, EU and Brazil.

Shareholders at the two companies will now decide whether the tie-up will go ahead, and the deal could complete in early 2016.

The takeover, which will create Britain’s biggest public company, has been under mounting scrutiny in recent weeks as the City questions whether Shell can justify pushing ahead, with oil prices remaining so suppressed.

The price of crude collapsed last Monday after an acrimonious meeting of Opec, the oil exporters’ cartel, and is currently trading at $37 a barrel.

BG is set to become the biggest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to China once it has merged with Shell.

The giant will supply around 30pc of China’s LNG by 2017 and insiders had warned that the Chinese regulator could use this deal as an opportunity to sweeten long-term gas supply contracts.

There were also fears that China’s “black box” review process would prove a major obstacle to the deal.

However, it is understood that Shell’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden, was able to meet the president of China’s ministry of commerce, Gao Hucheng, to discuss the deal.

“We’re grateful to MOFCOM for its thorough and professional review of the recommended combination, and I am delighted we now have all the pre-conditional approvals needed to move to the next important phase,” Mr van Beurden said.

“This is a strategic deal that will make Shell a more profitable and resilient company in a world where oil and gas prices could remain lower for some time. We will now seek approval from both sets of shareholders as we move towards deal completion in early 2016.”

“Following today’s approval from MOFCOM, all pre-conditional regulatory approvals for the combination have been received and we now move to the next phase,” added BG Group’s chief executive, Helge Lund.

“I am pleased that we have continued to deliver a strong operating and safety performance throughout the offer period, which is a credit to our teams across the business.

“The proposed combination has strong industrial logic, particularly in deep water production and LNG, and will accelerate the delivery of value to our shareholders.”

The takeover will enable Shell to fulfil Mr van Beurden’s ambitious growth targets and leapfrog its top US rival ExxonMobil to become the largest LNG producer in the world.

The deal still requires 50.1pc of Shell investors and 75pc of BG’s shareholders to vote in favour.

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