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By Sonali Paul
MELBOURNE (Reuters) -Canada's Brookfield Asset Management has bought a 2.6% stake in AGL Energy, becoming the no.4 shareholder just over three months after being spurned in a A$5.4 billion ($3.7 billion) bid for Australia's beleaguered top power producer.
AGL said on Thursday that a unit of Brookfield Asset Management had bought 17.2 million shares as of June 24, adding that the size of the stake could have changed since then.
Brookfield declined to comment on the stake or its intentions.
Shareholder holdings are typically not publicly announced if they are below 5%. Refinitiv data shows the 2.56% stake ranks Brookfield just outside AGL's top three investors.
Brookfield's stake purchase comes as AGL is in limbo, searching for a new chairman and chief executive and working on a new strategy after scrapping a plan to split itself into an energy retailer and coal-fired power producer.
"It's a big black hole at the moment," said Jamie Hannah, deputy head of investments at fund manager Van Eck, one of AGL's top 15 shareholders. "There are a lot of different moving parts going on right now that they need to weigh up."
AGL ditched the demerger plan two months after rejecting a joint takeover proposal from Brookfield and tech billionaire and climate activist Mike Cannon-Brookes, who bought an 11% stake in AGL and rallied opposition to the company split.
AGL plans to update shareholders on its strategy review when it reports annual results on Aug. 19.
Based on where AGL's shares were trading before June 24, Brookfield likely bought its stake for close to the A$8.25 a share it offered with Cannon-Brookes' investment firm Grok Ventures for AGL in March.
"We don't want to see a takeover offer at all at this level," Van Eck's Hannah said. "We just think there's long term value - the price is depressed at this level."
AGL's shares inched up 0.1% at A$8.40, as of 0125 GMT in a broader market that was down 0.7%.
($1 = 1.4539 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Additional reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Kenneth Maxwell)