Shell Takes Step Toward Becoming World's Largest Power Utility

24 Août, 2019, 20:12 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Image Shell

Oil and gas major Shell has triggered a major shake-up of the east coast electricity supply market, striking a $617 million deal to acquire business retailer ERM Power as it prepares for the radical disruption it expects throughout the sector because of the wide-scale shift to renewables.

ERM provides electricity to both commercial and industrial entities while also operating two gas-fired power plants in Queensland and Western Australia.

Under the terms of the proposed offer, ERM shareholders would receive A$2.465 in cash for every share held, representing a 38.4% premium to ERM's one-month volume weighted average share price.

Shell, which was advised by UBS, said Australia is one of the core markets for its new "Emerging Power" theme, focused on strong growth in renewables to complement traditional fuels.

The move into Australia follows a similar move by Shell in the United Kingdom earlier this year when it rebranded supplier First Utility to Shell Energy and switched its customers to renewables as part of an initial shift into the power market.

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"This acquisition aligns with Shell's global ambition to expand our integrated power business and builds on Shell Energy Australia's existing gas marketing and trading capability", said Shell Australia's Country Chair Zoe Yujnovich. "Upon completion, we look forward to welcoming ERM's staff and customers to Shell", she said. However, the largest shareholder in the company, its founder Trevor St Baker, said ERM will only go through with it if no rival appears and offers a higher price.

The company on Thursday reported underlying earnings of $90.5 million for the 2019 financial year, down 7% from a year earlier, as sales fell 8% to 17.7 terrawatt hours (TWh) of power.

In the space of 10 years since ERM entered the commercial and industrial electricity market, the company has grown to become the second largest energy retailer by load in Australia.

"With ERM's announcement I see no change to that", Origin chief executive Frank Calabria said on a conference call.

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