Centrica sets out to woo Venture's shareholders

CENTRICA, the company which controls British Gas, will this week seek to win over investors for its hostile &pound;1.3bn takeover of the North Sea gas company Venture Production. <br /><br />The gas group&rsquo;s board of directors slammed Centrica&rsquo;s bid late last week, saying it &ldquo;substantially undervalued&rdquo; the business.<br /><br />The offer of 845p a share, which values the oil and gas explorer at around &pound;1.3bn, came after Centrica upped its holding in Venture to 29 per cent, having acquired private equity firm 3i&rsquo;s 5.4 per cent share. <br /><br />It wants to own more than 50 per cent of the business. <br /><br />The group will now look to win over major shareholders including Legal &amp; General and JP Morgan.<br /><br />Centrica bought a 22 per cent stake in Venture in March, and said it may make a cash offer for the company. It had until today to make a bid or to walk away and be precluded from making another bid for six months.