Australia's APA to take over Envestra with sweetened $1.3 billion deal

SYDNEY Mon Dec 16, 2013 8:22pm EST

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SYDNEY (Reuters) - APA Group (APA.AX), Australia's largest transporter of natural gas, has agreed to take over gas distributor Envestra Ltd ENV.AX after hiking its offer to A$1.4 billion ($1.3 billion) - its second big acquisition in two years.

APA, which delivers about half of the country's annual gas use, has been keen to broaden its reach and the deal follows its A$1.4 billion acquisition of Hastings Diversified Utilities Fund last year.

Envestra shares surged 5.6 percent to A$1.13 in morning trade after APA, which owns one third of Envestra, said it had agreed to buy the shares it did not own, with its revised offer implying a value of A$1.17 per Envestra share. The deal values Envestra at A$2.1 billion.

APA shares lost 3.9 percent to A$6.12.

Envestra shareholders can either accept 0.1919 APA shares for each Envestra share, or a combination of APA shares and cash with the cash component subject to an overall cap of A$241 million, APA said.

Envestra's independent board committee has agreed by majority to proceed with the deal, the companies said.

Envestra, which owns gas distribution networks on the Australian mainland with about 1.2 million customers, had rejected a previous proposal of a notional A$1.10 per share from APA in August.

Envestra is 17.5 percent owned by Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holding Ltd (1038.HK), a company controlled by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-Shing.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said in August it would not oppose APA's proposed acquisition. APA said it expected the deal to close by June 2014.

($1 = 1.1160 Australian dollars)

(Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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