Centrica makes £1.3 bln bid for Venture

LONDON: Energy firm Centrica said it had tabled a 1.3 billion pound bid for North Sea gas company Venture Production.

Centrica, the owner of domestic energy supplier British Gas, said late Friday after the markets closed it had boosted its holding in Venture to about 29 percent after buying the 5.4 percent stake owned by private equity firm 3i.

The offer values Venture at 845 pence per share to buy those shares Centrica does not already own, which is almost double the price of Venture's shares in January before Centrica signalled its interest in the company.

Venture shares had earlier fallen 24 pence to 785 pence on concern about whether Centrica would bid before a deadline of Monday set by the takeover regulator.

Centrica is keen to acquire Venture so it can boost its gas production and avoid buying gas on the wholesale market at volatile prices to supply its customers.

In May, Centrica agreed a joint-venture deal with France's state-owned EDF focused on increasing the production of nuclear energy in Britain.