Santos' Chinese conundrum

PNG LNG project proponent Santos’ big Chinese shareholders, ENN and Hony Capital, have formalised their joint holding in the Adelaide-based Santos at either 14.87% or 15.11%, competing substantial shareholder notices revealed on Friday.
Santos' Chinese conundrum Santos' Chinese conundrum Santos' Chinese conundrum Santos' Chinese conundrum Santos' Chinese conundrum

Staff Reporter

Via their lawyers, DLA Piper and King & Wood Mallesons respectively, ENN and Hony released substantial shareholder notices to the Australian Securities Exchange reporting slightly different shareholdings and percentages for the 2.08 billion Santos shares on issue.
 
Hony stated the joint group had 14.87% for 309,734,516 shares, whereas ENN said that the group holds a combined 15.11% for 314,734, 518 shares.
 
The notices were released within three hours of each other. 
 
Energy News understands the minor difference is down to one ENN-related entity that owns less than 0.3% in Santos, which is not covered by last week's agreement by ENN and Hony to work together under a combined shareholder agreement. 
 
The pair have expressed concerns on the direction of Santos, which has come under increased pressure after the Australian government introduced new measures that would force exporters to supply extra gas to the domestic market from July 1.
 
Last week Hony, which had been a major shareholder in Santos in 2015 before selling out to ENN, returned to the register, purchasing shares representing 2.3% of the company's issued capital at a cost of $3.84 per share, a small premium to the trading price.
 
The pair then told the Australian Securities Exchange that they were formally acting in concert "in relation to matters that require a decision-making process at shareholder meetings."
 
The 24 month agreement binds the pair to "consult and communicate" before making any proposals, to vote together, but they are free to purchase additional shares.
 
If they cannot agree then ENN, which has the largest stake, will exercise control over Hony's voting rights.
 
Hony has also entered into a 12-month lock-in period under which it cannot sell its shares to any party except ENN.
 
Hony is among China's most successful private equity funds.
 
The value of Santos shares has plunged from above $13 to around $3.50 this week, in the wake of the oil price slump, underperformance of its Queensland CSG fields, and significant debt taken on to fund the development of the Gladstone LNG project. 
 
Santos shares were $3.67 this morning.

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