BG shareholders give Shell's $52 billion acquisition final nod

Thu Jan 28, 2016 9:45am EST
 
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By Ron Bousso

LONDON (Reuters) - BG Group BG.L shareholders overwhelmingly approved Royal Dutch Shell's (RDSa.L: Quote) $52 billion takeover on Thursday, clearing the way for the two firms to create the world's biggest trader of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

BG will now merge with Shell on Feb. 15, nearly two decades after the company was born from British Gas and just a few months after it reached record oil and gas output thanks to new projects in Australia and Brazil.

At a meeting in London, 99.53 percent of BG shareholders voted in favor of the merger, a day after 83 percent of Shell's shareholders approved the deal first announced on April 8 last year.

Shell shareholders are putting their faith in CEO Ben van Beurden's decision to focus the Anglo-Dutch company's operations in liquefied natural gas (LNG) and deep water oil production over the coming decades as the industry undergoes one of its worse downturns in decades.

Low oil prices will remain a challenge for the combined company in the short term, however, as crude has fallen 75 percent over the past 18 months to around $30 a barrel.

While the oil price is expected to stage a gradual recovery, Shell has said the combined group needs crude to be above $60 a barrel to break even.

"I very strongly believe in what Shell is trying to do long term ... The idea that they try to specialize in their strengths being deepwater and LNG is absolutely the right thing to do," BG Chairman Andrew Gould told reporters.

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Shell branding is seen at a petrol station in west London, January 29, 2015. REUTERS/Toby Melville