Allianz reportedly bids €1.8bn for Net4Gas

German insurer Allianz SE (ETR:ALV) has made an offer of €1.8bn ($2.3bn) for RWE AG’s (ETR:RWE) Czech gas transmission unit Net4Gas sro, outbidding local group Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding as’s (EPH) €1.75bn bid, according to sources cited today by Slovak daily Hospodarske Noviny.

The paper quoted Miroslav Bodnar, advisor to Slovak utility SPP’s chairman Daniel Kretinsky. Bodnar also said that the sale was still ongoing.

EPH bought 49% in SPP in January for €2.6bn.

Earlier in March, Reuters cited insiders as saying that Allianz and Canadian investor Borealis Infrastructure Trust were preferred bidders in the race for Net4Gas, which runs over 3,600km of pipelines.

The company has more than 500 staff and generated some 11% of RWE’s net profit in 2011. Under an asset sale programme, RWE offered Net4Gas for sale last year.

BG Group’s eroding market value could attract “opportunistic” buyers

UK natural gas company BG Group Plc (LON:BG), with a current market capitalisation of USD60bn (EUR45bn), could become a takeover target for big oil firms, following a decline in its valuation by half in less than two years, Bloomberg cited today analysts as saying.

BG, which reported a 26% decrease in its stock price last year, expects project delays to impede its output growth in 2013. Jane Coffey, head of UK equities at investment manager Royal London Asset Management (RLAM), told Bloomberg that there was a danger for the UK firm to be bought by an “opportunistic” large company at a very cheap price.

According to UK investment manager Brewin Dolphin Ltd, US oil group Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE:XOM) could be interested in BG to help it revive its growth. Nplus1 Singer Advisory LLP believes that UK’s BP Plc (LON:BP) could welcome a combination with BG as it would enable it to contest the European leadership of Anglo-Dutch oil major Royal Dutch Shell Plc (AMS:RDSA).

Neil Burrows, a spokesman at BG, refused to say whether the company was considering a sale. Patrick McGinn, a Houston-based spokesman for Exxon, did not wish to say if the company was interested in buying BG. Bloomberg could not extract a comment from Sheila Williams, a London-based spokeswoman at BP, either.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (HKG:0386), or Sinopec, Cnooc Ltd (HKG:0883) and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) are also considered to be among the interested buyers. Bloomberg could not contact representatives of the three Chinese companies outside normal business hours.

Kinder Morgan and El Paso complete $21bn merger

US natural gas pipeline operator Kinder Morgan Inc (NYSE:KMI) said it had finalised its planned USD21bn (EUR16.7bn) combination with peer El Paso Corp (NYSE:EP) announced last October.

The transaction, effective as of 25 May, converts Kinder Morgan into the largest midstream company and the fourth largest energy company in North America, based on enterprise value.

Its new position as the US’ largest transporter and storage operator of natural gas, ensures many growth opportunities for Kinder Morgan in the US, which it plans to pursue as means to create value for shareholders and to benefit employees and customers, chairman and CEO, Richard D. Kinder, said.

As part of the merger, El Paso agreed in February to sell its exploration and production business EP Energy to a group led by private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE:APO) in a deal worth some USD7.15bn, which has also been completed, the companies said.

In order to secure regulatory clearance for the tie-up, Kinder Morgan had agreed to sell some of its own assets, which it plans to do in the third quarter this year. The Federal Trade Commission gave it six months from the date of its ruling on 1 May to complete the divestment.

The acquisition of El Paso was financed with cash and stock.
Kinder Morgan said the combination will be accretive to its results. It will generate annual cost savings of over USD400m, above Kinder Morgan’s initial projection of around USD350m, the buyer added.