| SYDNEY, July 11
SYDNEY, July 11 Australian gas pipeline owner
Envestra Ltd on Friday declared a final dividend
earlier than planned, potentially throwing into doubt a A$2.2
billion ($2.07 billion) takeover offer from Hong Kong's Cheung
Kong Infrastructure Holdings Ltd (CKI).
Envestra's directors have recommended the May 9 offer from
billionaire Li Ka-shing's company, but both companies recently
revealed they disagreed on the date when the Australian takeover
target would declare its final dividend.
Envestra wanted to bring the date forward to July 11 -
Friday - to ensure enough shareholders voted in favour of the
deal. CKI objected, saying it would interfere with its
accounting timetable. CKI wanted the dividend paid in August.
Friday's move by Envestra means CKI, which would get about
A$60 million in dividends as Envestra's No.2 shareholder with
17.5 percent of its stock, must now decide if it is prepared to
proceed with the non-binding offer regardless of its objection.
"I don't think CKI would drop the offer, (but) they might
reduce it by the dividend amount," said a Sydney stock analyst
who did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of the
Envestra had previously taken the dispute to the country's
Takeovers Panel seeking a declaration of "unacceptable
circumstances". The regulatory body dismissed the complaint,
saying neither party had deviated from the agreement.
In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange on
Friday, Envestra declared a final dividend of A$0.035 ($0.03),
adding that its directors "continue to recommend that Envestra
shareholders accept the takeover offer" from CKI.
In a July 2 statement, CKI said it "does object to the
declaration and payment of a dividend on an accelerated
timetable from that foreshadowed in Envestra's financial
A CKI spokesman declined comment on Friday.
Shares of Envestra closed flat at A$1.36 in a higher overall
($1 = 1.0654 Australian dollars)
(Editing by Matt Driskill)