Australia's Envestra backs $2.2 bln CKI takeover

SYDNEY Thu May 29, 2014 8:44pm EDT

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SYDNEY May 30 (Reuters) - Australian gas pipeline owner Envestra Ltd backed a A$2.37 billion ($2.20 billion) takeover bid from firms associated with Li Ka-shing on Friday, reversing its earlier support for a lower bid from domestic rival Australian Pipeline Ltd.

Envestra had for two months recommended a A$2.2 billion bid from APA but companies in billionaire Li's Hong Kong-based Cheung Kong Group (CKI) - Envestra's second-biggest shareholder after APA - opposed the move before unexpectedly lobbing a higher offer on May 9.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange on Friday, Envestra said its chairman and an independent board committee now unanimously recommended the CKI offer and would withdraw their support for the APA bid.

Envestra shares were in a trading halt at 00.31 GMT. ($1 = 1.0766 Australian Dollars) (Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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