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AustralianSuper increases stake in Origin Energy, potentially blocking takeover bid

AustralianSuper has moved closer to constructing a blocking stake against the proposed $20 billion takeover offer for Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) from Brookfield of Canada and the smaller EIF group of the US.

AustralianSuper told the ASX on Monday that it had lifted its stake in Origin to 15.03% with the purchase of 23.4 million Origin shares late last week.

As of the close of business on Friday, AustralianSuper said it now owned 258.9 million Origin shares, worth more than $2.2 billion at yesterday’s price of $8.48.

Brookfield and EIG raised their proposed offer price by 69 cents to $9.53 a week ago.

At the offer price, the stake is worth around $300 million.

The discount reflects market skepticism that the offer will not happen. However, EIF told the Australian Financial Review on Monday that AustralianSuper risks being locked into a minority position in Origin.

However, EIG is well aware that with such a large Australian investor actively opposed, the bid will have little chance of succeeding at the November 23 meeting, especially as AustralianSuper has support from several other investors.

EIG also understands that without 100% control of Origin, it and Brookfield will not be able to split the company as they have planned, with EIF getting Origin’s LNG and associated businesses, and Brookfield taking the rest.

To do that without total control would be cumbersome and expensive.

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