Centrica wins battle for venture

North Sea oil and gas production firm Venture has conceded defeat in its battle against a hostile takeover by British Gas owner Centrica. Aberdeen-based Venture recommended that shareholders support Centrica's £1.3 billion offer after the energy giant last night took its stake to 58.7 per cent.

North Sea oil and gas production firm Venture has conceded defeat in its battle against a hostile takeover by British Gas owner Centrica. Aberdeen-based Venture recommended that shareholders support Centrica's £1.3 billion offer after the energy giant last night took its stake to 58.7 per cent.

 

While continuing to believe that the offer of 845p a share undervalued its prospects, Venture said shareholders who did not accept the offer risked being left with a minority interest in an unlisted company.

 

Two shareholders accounting for 12.8 per cent of the firm - founder and director Larry Kinch and US investment fund ArcLight - have told the Venture board they intend to sell their shares to Centrica, having been critical of the proposal.

 

The energy firm launched its bid for Venture in order to boost its gas production and reduce dependence on volatile wholesale markets. Centrica currently produces around 35 per cent of its energy needs out of its own resources, although this should increase to 45 per cent with its acquisition of a 20 per cent stake in nuclear power firm British Energy from French energy giant EDF.

 

Buying Venture would mean that Centrica could supply 60 per cent of its energy from its own assets and resources. Centrica chief executive Sam Laidlaw said: "The deal sees us continuing our investment in the North Sea which is good news for our customers and shareholders. It further reduces our overall exposure to volatile movements in wholesale gas prices and helps secure UK energy supplies."

He told Venture staff that his company intended to "develop and grow the business" and that their skills and experience will be vital.

 

Venture acquires, develops and brings into production discovered but undeveloped oil and gas fields in the North Sea. In 2008, the firm virtually doubled operating profits to £231 million with revenues up 38 per cent to £494.9 million after higher production levels and commodity prices.

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