THE Takeovers Panel has moved to prevent either offer in the takeover battle between energy groups Australian Gas Light Company Ltd and Alinta Ltd from becoming unconditional until it is clear that one bid has been successful and the other has not. The Takeovers Panel said it had made the orders to stop market disruption. “The panel has required that both Alinta and AGL include defeating conditions in their offers, which require them to acquire more than 50 per cent of the shares in their target and the rival bidder to have acquired less than 50 per cent of them, before their offers can become unconditional,” the panel announced in a statement. “The panel has also required that the successful offer be open for at least two weeks after it becomes unconditional in order to allow shareholders the time to reassess their positions once control of the two companies has been decided.” Perth-based Alinta launched its $8.9 billion bid for larger east coast rival AGL two months ago, surprising the market with a merger proposal revised from a plan mooted the previous year to create a combined group worth almost $12 billion. AGL turned the tables on its would-be suitor in March, making a counter takeover bid. The effect of the order from the Takeovers Panel is that neither AGL nor Alinta can declare their bids unconditional until a 50.1 per cent shareholding in their rival is achieved. The Takeovers Panel made the declaration following an application from AGL.
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