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Shareholders pull the plug on Origin takeover bid

Origin Energy shareholders have rejected Brookfield and EIG's takeover bid.

Origin Energy shareholders have rejected Brookfield and EIG's takeover bid. Photo: AAP

One of the longest-running takeover sagas in Australia’s recent corporate history is officially over after Origin Energy shareholders rejected a $20 billion bid by private equity firms Brookfield and EIG.

Approximately 69 per cent of shareholders voted in favour of the proposal on Monday, short of the 75 per cent threshold required for the deal to go ahead.

The writing had been on the wall since the energy giant’s largest shareholder AustralianSuper announced it would commit its 17 per cent stake against the $9.39 per share offer.

With more than 90 per cent of remaining votes required to succeed, Origin’s board kicked off a desperate marketing campaign, including phone calls and emails, as every last retail shareholder became critical.

Board members had unanimously endorsed the takeover, arguing the North American consortium’s proposal to invest $20 billion to $30 billion in renewables and storage assets was critical to Australia meeting its emissions reduction targets.

The deal looked increasingly unlikely when the strengthening Australian dollar caused the offer to fall below the top of the Independent Expert’s valuation range of $8.45 to $9.48 per share.

The vote was initially set to take place on November 23 but was adjourned by the board after the bidders lobbed a last-minute back-up offer.

The new bid would have resulted in Origin selling its energy markets business to Brookfield for $12.3 billion and EIG making an off-market takeover offer for its LNG business.

Shareholders would have only received $9.08 per share under the alternative offer, but it would only have needed the acceptance of 50.1 per cent of shareholders.

However, Origin’s board formally rejected the revised offer on Thursday, saying it was not in the best interests of the company or its shareholders.

With the offer now officially dead in the water, Origin will continue as an independent ASX-listed company.

Chairman Scott Perkins said the process of bringing the scheme, which was tabled in November 2022, to a vote had been a long one.

Origin shares had dropped 4.5 per cent to $7.81 ahead of a trading halt shortly before 2pm AEDT.

– AAP

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