Australia’s competition watchdog said Thursday it will not oppose Royal Dutch Shell’s proposed merger with UK-based BG Group.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has determined the deal will not harm competition in Australia’s natural gas market.
“The ACCC’s view is that the proposed acquisition would be unlikely to substantially lessen competition in the wholesale natural gas market, in either Queensland or eastern Australia more broadly,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
During its review, the ACCC said it received a large number of submissions from market participants who were concerned the merger would allow Arrow Energy gas to be developed more quickly by providing a “route to market.”
Shell holds a 50 percent interest in Arrow.
“The ACCC concluded that as Arrow is not currently focused on supplying domestic customers, and appears unlikely to be so in the future, aligning Arrow with an LNG operator would not change competition for the supply of gas to domestic customers,” Sims said.
The deal must still be approved by China’s competition authority and Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board.
It has already received merger clearance by competition authorities in the United States, Brazil, Europe, Japan and Korea.
According to Reuters, Chinese regulators are trying to use the merger as leverage to secure better conditions for the country’s long-term LNG supply contracts.
Chinese officials have suggested that Shell consider reviewing its LNG pricing for contracts the company has with some of China’s state-owned energy firms.
Several sources also told the news wire that the country’s ministry of commerce is interested in lowering import volumes by extending the term of its current contracts with Shell and other natural gas providers in response to slumping demand.
Once the merger is complete, the combined company will provide about 30 percent of China’s natural gas imports by 2017, Reuters said.
The companies said on Thursday that each of their boards of directors have reached an agreement on the terms of the recommended cash and share offer to be made by Shell for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of BG.
“Bold, strategic moves shape our industry. BG and Shell are a great fit. This transaction fits with our strategy and our read on the industry landscape around us,” Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said.
Royal Dutch Shell agreed in April to acquire UK-based BG Group for about $70 billion in cash and shares.