Queensland tycoon Trevor St Baker's company ERM Power has become the biggest shareholder in Perth joint venture partner Empire Oil & Gas following a four-month on-market stock buying spree.
ERM declared yesterday it had become a 7 per cent investor in Empire, having outlaid $5.3 million since April, including $1.9 million on purchases this week. Empire shares had closed down 0.1ï¿½ at 1.4ï¿½.
The ERM investment was welcomed by Empire. Mr St Baker controls 41 per cent of the $529 million Brisbane company.
"They always said they wanted to get to 10 per cent and they do it with their other joint venture partners as well," Empire managing director Craig Marshall said. "We get on very well with ERM. They have been a very good joint venture partner."
ERM has 23.6 per cent of the Empire-operated Red Gully and Gingin West gas operation in the Perth Basin. The joint venture celebrated first gas deliveries to Alcoa in May. ERM also owns the nearby 330MW gas-fired Neerabup power station.
ERM managing director Philip St Baker said the Empire investment was part of a broader strategy to focus on prospects "that can support gas supply and power generation".
ERM's move comes as Empire and adviser Macquarie Capital look for a partner to farm into its extensive Perth Basin acreage. The acreage is close to pipeline infrastructure.