Edison Mission Energy (EME) has entered into a conditional agreement to sell its 51.2 percent holding, a total of NZ$ 1.67 billion (US$ 1.07 billion), in Contact Energy to Origin Energy for NZ$5.67 per share. This deal could add a production and customer base boost to Origin’s portfolio which already includes investments in solar energy and wind power generation.Sydney, Australia – July 23, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] While a considerably smaller investment, Origin energy has also put their financial muscle behind solar energy projects including a recent manufacturing facility highlighting a new approach to photovoltaic cell production. The current EME agreement includes the assumption of NZ$ 535 million of debt in relation to the financing of EME’s shareholding in Contact, and will be adjusted by any dividend paid by Contact prior to completion. Acquisition is subject to an exemption being granted by the NZ Takeover Panel that would allow EME to sell its NZ holding company Edison Mission Universal Holdings to Origin, rather than its Contact Energy shares. Contact supplies energy to over 620,000 businesses and homes across New Zealand. They are the largest wholesaler and retailer of natural gas in the country and generate about 30 percent of New Zealand’s electricity. Contact has ten power stations around the country including hydro, geothermal and gas turbines. “Contact is a strongly performing business with a similar business model to Origin that focuses on the competitive generation and retail segments of the New Zealand energy market,” Origin’s Managing Director Grant King said. Origin’s position in gas exploration and production in New Zealand has the potential to provide Contact with access to natural gas in a market where gas resources are declining. However, gas fired power plants are only a part of the company’s corporate interests. They are working on a proposal to establish the Kemmiss Hill Road Wind Farm in Yankalilla, and own interests in other area wind farms that are already on line. Over 30,000 utility customers purchase power through Origin’s Green Power Program. Recently, the company opened the first Sliver Solar Cell plant in Australia. Sliver cells are multi-crystalline solar cell technology developed in conjunction with the Australian National University. According to Origin, the sliver cell production uses one-tenth of the silicon of conventional solar panels while matching power performance and efficiency.