Origin’s Top Holder Spurns New Offer to Join Brookfield Deal

Origin’s Top Holder Spurns New Offer to Join Brookfield Deal

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(Bloomberg) — Pension giant AustralianSuper turned down a new approach to join a Brookfield Asset Management and EIG Global Energy Partners-led A$19.4 billion ($12.3 billion) takeover of utility Origin Energy Ltd.

The country’s largest pension fund, which is Origin’s biggest investor with 15.3% of shares, “rejected an 11th hour and unsolicited letter” from the private equity firms and “reaffirmed that it will be voting against” the proposed acquisition. 

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AustralianSuper has opposed the deal, arguing the price is well below the Sydney-based utility’s long-term value, and said Monday it’s prepared to provide capital to Origin as it moves its portfolio from fossil fuels to cleaner electricity generation.

Brookfield, which confirmed the contents of the letter, previously said it intends to spend as much as A$30 billion over 10 years to accelerate the utility’s transition.

“We’re offering a clear pathway to a faster reduction of the company’s emissions and an acceleration of Australia’s net zero targets,” said Luke Edwards, Brookfield’s managing director, renewable power and transition. “A full decarbonization of Origin’s energy markets business can only be delivered in a private setting.”

Origin shares rose 1.5% in Sydney trading Monday to A$8.78. The Brookfield-led consortium has offered A$9.53 per share for the energy company. 

A shareholder vote to decide the deal’s fate is scheduled for Nov. 23. AustralianSuper said earlier this month it has no interest in participating in the take-private as a co-investor or in engaging in talks with the consortium.

“The challenge facing the nation as we work toward net zero by 2050 is not a lack of capital but rather a shortage of good quality investment opportunities,” AustralianSuper, which manages about A$300 billion, said in its statement.

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Australian rules require a minimum of 75% of participating shareholders to approve a takeover offer, meaning 15% opposition has usually proved sufficient to block a deal as typically not all retail investors will cast a ballot.

—With assistance from Amy Bainbridge.

(Updates with closing share price in sixth paragraph)

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