AGL – The Australian Gas Light Company

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There is a difference between the AGL demerger and the other demergers mentioned. The other demergers were largely financial engineering and separation of corporate groups but with a vertically integrated energy company there are many other issues that need to be dealt with. Their demerger is closer to the suggestedTelstra split between wholesale and retail.

AGL already faces an ambitious IT program. AGL unlike Origin (the nearest competitor) never really integrated the businesses they acquired and runs many separate billing systems and the IT program is to finally do the integration. Add to this the probable need to split some of these billing systems into network and retail billing.

Having been involved in a few billing system integration/separations I know it is tough and a high percentage have gone awry (none of mine ).

Compare this to Origin which has made an announcement about the friendly merge with Contact. The two strong companies will form an even stronger single company. Also Origin is to increase dividends (watching Rozella?) (and Origin has none of the IT issues that AGL and will target costs by some small targeted system improvements)

Note that the unfriendly merger ALN/AGL has caused a large jump in their price where the Origin/Contact announcement has made barely a dent. My GUESS is that hedge funds have bought ALN/AGL for some short term gain and will drop the shares if there are any issues with the merger or IT work and that Origin will be slowly acquired by longer term funds.

If I wasn’t a TA person (price action rules!) and a longer term holder, I would buy Origin now and buy into ALN/AGL if the sh*t hits the fans and the price drops as I think that what they are doing is good long term but there could be a rocky road ahead.

MIT

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