Shell ends 30-year link to Wood­side

The Courier-Mail - - BUSINESS - JOHN DAGGE

ROYAL Dutch Shell has sold out of Wood­side Pe­tro­leum, end­ing a pres­ence of more than 30 years on the regis­ter of Aus­tralia’s big­gest stand-alone oil and gas pro­ducer.

Wood­side shares slumped 3.2 per cent, or $1.04, to $31.20 yes­ter­day af­ter the An­gloDutch en­ergy ti­tan con­firmed it had sold its final 13.3 per cent stake for $3.5 bil­lion.

Shell moved to sell off 8.5 per cent of its Wood­side stake late on Mon­day but de­cided to off­load its en­tire hold­ing amid stronger-than-ex­pected de­mand from in­sti­tu­tional in­vestors. It sold out at $31.10 a share, which was a 3.5 per cent dis­count to Mon­day’s clos­ing price.

Wood­side chief Peter Cole­man (pic­tured) said the com­pany would con­tinue to have a close work­ing re­la­tion­ship with Shell, not­ing the global en­ergy heavy­weight re­mained a part­ner in its North West Shelf and Browse projects off the coast of West­ern Aus­tralia.

They are also part­ners at the stalled Sun­rise de­vel­op­ment in the Ti­mor Sea.

“Wood­side’s strong and long­stand­ing re­la­tion­ship with Shell will con­tinue fol­low­ing (the) di­vest­ment,” Mr Cole­man said.

“Wood­side will main­tain a close work­ing re­la­tion­ship with Shell, as a joint ven­ture part­ner and cus­tomer of Shell tech­nol­ogy, and we recog­nise that Shell will al­ways be part of our his­tory.”

The sale is the lat­est un­der­taken by Shell, which launched a $US30 bil­lion ($A39.3 bil­lion) as­set sales pro­gram fol­low­ing its ac­qui­si­tion of ri­val Bri­tish gas and oil com­pany BG Group in 2015.

Shell part­nered with Wood­side in the early 1960s to de­velop the North West Shelf oil and gas ven­ture, pro­vid­ing its Aus­tralian part­ner with the tech­ni­cal skills needed to de­velop one of the na­tion’s big­gest re­source projects.

It has been look­ing to sell out of Wood­side for sev­eral years, clas­si­fy­ing the stake as “avail­able for sale” in its 2016 ac­counts. Its de­ci­sion to pull the trig­ger on its lat­est and final sale comes af­ter Wood­side’s share price climbed more than 11 per cent over the past three months.

Shell has twice sought to take over Wood­side, team­ing with BHP to make its first play in the mid-1980s.

It launched a sec­ond bid in 2000 with the $10 bil­lion of­fer timed to take ad­van­tage of an Aussie dol­lar that was then trad­ing around US50¢.

For­mer trea­surer Peter Costello re­jected the of­fer amid con­cerns the shelf as­sets would be starved of at­ten­tion.

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