Woodside Shareholders Block $2.68B Buyback from Shell

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Woodside fails to win shareholder approval to buy back $2.68B of its shares from Shell, the company said after a vote.


MELBOURNE, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Woodside Petroleum Ltd failed to win shareholder approval to buy back $2.68 billion of its shares from Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Australia's top oil and gas company said after a vote on Friday.

Defeat of the buyback leaves Shell holding a 14 percent stake in Woodside that it intends to sell, which will continue to weigh on the Australian company's shares, an overhang Woodside was trying to remove.

The buyback won 72 percent support but needed 75 percent approval to go ahead, Woodside said. Its shares were trading down 1.8 percent at A$41.76 after the final vote count was released, in a broader market down 1.5 percent.

Shell, a long-time investor in Woodside, was aiming to sell down its stake from 23.1 percent to 4.5 percent as part of a series of global asset sales to help cut soaring costs and boost returns to shareholders.

Half of the share parcel was sold to institutions, while Woodside planned to buy back and cancel the remaining 78.3 million shares in a bid to smooth the impact of Shell's sell-down.

However, the buyback was opposed by some investors as it did not treat all shareholders equally and would have given Shell access to A$1 billion ($929 million) in tax credits coveted by Australian investors.

Woodside chairman Michael Chaney acknowledged the issue ahead of the vote, telling a shareholders meeting the board had not been looking for the best way to execute a buyback.


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