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Shell lobs $617m takeover bid for ERM Power as it eyes Australian expansion

By Nick Toscano

Global oil and gas giant Shell has launched a $617 million takeover offer for Australian energy retailer ERM Power as the multinational seeks to make a foray into the country’s energy retailing market.

Shell is proposing to buy ERM – Australia’s second-largest power retailer to commercial and industrial customers – for $2.465 a share, the two companies announced on Thursday morning.

The offer represents a 43 per cent premium to ERM’s last closing price of $1.72.

Shell’s proposal has gained the backing of ERM’s founder, Trevor St Baker, who holds 27 per cent of the company. Mr St Baker said he intended to vote in favour of the takeover bid “in the absence of a superior proposal”.

“Shell’s interest in ERM Power says a great deal about ERM’s business, its people, its progress and its potential,” he said.

“ERM is a great business and I’m proud to have been a part of that in many ways over the years – as founder, chairman, board member, investor and keen supporter.”

The deal has been unanimously backed by ERM’s board, recommending shareholders vote in favour.

“The board believe that the proposed all-cash proposal represents compelling value and provides an attractive opportunity for shareholders to realise certain value at a significant premium to market,” ERM chair Julieanne Alroe said.

The bid comes as Shell has been exploring opportunities to expand its electricity business globally, with ambitions to build an energy generating and retailing business in Australia within the decade.

Shell’s head in Australia Zoe Yujnovich said the takeover “aligns with Shell’s global ambition to expand our integrated power business and builds on Shell Energy Australia’s existing gas marketing and trading capability.”

“ERM will become our core power and energy solutions platform and this acquisition is a significant step forward in growing Shell’s integrated power business in Australia,” she said.

“Upon implementation, we look forward to welcoming ERM’s staff and customers to Shell.”

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