By Sonali Paul
BRISBANE (Reuters) -Shareholders in Woodside (OTC:) Petroleum approved on Thursday a merger with BHP Group (NYSE:)’s petroleum arm to create a top 10 global independent oil and gas producer worth $40 billion, according to proxy votes shown at the company’s annual meeting.
More than 97% of proxy and direct votes received were in favour of the deal.
The merger, agreed last August, advances top global miner BHP’s effort to move away from fossil fuels as it looks to decarbonise, while doubling Woodside’s oil and gas production and beefing up its funding for growth.
“The merger is an opportunity for Woodside to increase its contribution to the world’s growing energy needs and build the scale, resilience and diversity to thrive through the energy transition,” Woodside Chief Executive Officer Meg O’Neill told shareholders.
BHP will be paid in Woodside shares, giving BHP investors a 48% stake in the merged group, which will have assets in Australia, the United States, Mexico, Senegal and Trinidad.
Woodside shareholders also approved a change of the company’s name to Woodside Energy Group Ltd.