Australia's Origin Energy almost scooped the pool of available shares in Contact Energy that were available as a result of the small shortfall arising from Contact's $351 million rights issue.

Origin took up 3.3 million of the 3.8 million shares that were made available through a bookbuilding process, taking its holding to 52.6 per cent from 51.4 per cent.

The top 20 Australian company bought 36.2 million Contact shares at $5.05 per share, representing its full pro rata entitlement under the rights issue. It bought the additional shares at $5.85 per share, which translated into an average price of $5.12 per share.

Contact will use the proceeds of the equity raising to strengthen its balance sheet for investment in growth opportunities, including the expansion of its geothermal capabilities through development of the Te Mihi power station. Origin took its controlling stake in Contact in October 2004.

Shares in Contact Energy closed yesterday down 5c at $5.77.