Global Processing

Shell, PetroChina Bid $3 billion for Australia''s Arrow

March 8, 2010
Reuters reports Royal Dutch Shell and PetroChina jointly bid more than $3 billion for Australia''s Arrow Energy. Arrow said that the bid from a company jointly owned by Shell and PetroChina would give shareholders A$4.45 in cash per share, plus a share in a new entity comprising Arrow''s international business. Shell confirmed it was in discussions to acquire Arrow''s domestic business, but declined to say more. PetroChina said the bid was at an early stage and there was no timetable. Coal-seam gas is natural gas trapped in seams of coal. Arrow has reserves of 6,150 petajoules of coal-seam gas, the largest in Australia. The deal could come under scrutiny as Australia has had an uneasy relationship with Chinese investments after Rio Tinto scrapped a $19.5 billion deal with Chinalco last year and regulators said they preferred state-owned companies to keep their stakes in Australia''s top resource firms to no more than 15 percent. The relationship was further strained after China arrested four Rio Tinto staff last year on charges of bribery and stealing business secrets. Arrow''s board recommended shareholders take no action on the offer, which is non-binding and conditional, and appointed Citi and UBS as financial advisers to evaluate the deal. Shell, which plans to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant fed by Arrow''s coal-seam gas, already holds a 30 percent stake in Arrow''s domestic coal-seam gas assets as well as a 10 percent share in its international business. Surging gas prices are increasingly drawing investors to coal-seam gas, a new underutilized energy source that analysts say could meet a sizeable part of Asia''s future gas needs.