Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Centrica Tightens Pressure on Venture with Shares Buy

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Centrica Tightens Pressure on Venture with Shares Buy

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert Lea

CENTRICA turned the drillbit on Venture Production today as it swept up further shares to take its stake in the North Sea gas player to 29.9%.

Venture meanwhile was rapped by the Takeover Panel and forced to clarify weekend reports about its shareholders wanting a [pounds sterling]10-a-share offer.

British Gas group Centrica launched a [pounds sterling]1.3 billion hostile takeover bid on Friday night valuing Venture at 845p a share.

The bid dealt a hammer blow as it emerged long-time Venture supporter 3i, the cash-strapped private-equity house, had conditionally sold its 5.4% stake to Centrica. The 3i deal built on the 23% stake that Centrica snapped up in a March raid when other City investors Schroders and Aberdeen Asset Management sold out up at 725p a share.

Today with Venture's shares remaining well below the offer price Centrica moved to buy further shares in the market, taking its stake to just below the threshold allowed under the City's takeover rules. …

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