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Linn Energy says SEC inquiry into accounting measures ongoing

Nov 5 (Reuters) - U.S. oil and gas producer Linn Energy LLC said an informal inquiry by the Securities and Exchange Commission into its use of non-GAAP accounting measures was ongoing, sending the company's shares down 4 percent.

The SEC began inquiries in July into Linn's hedging strategies and certain other financial measures as well as its proposed acquisition of Berry Petroleum Co.

The regulator's review of the deal and of Linn's use of non-GAAP accounting measures were separate events, Chief Executive Mark Ellis told analysts on a conference call on Tuesday.

Linn said earlier this month that SEC had no further comments on the amended filings in connection with the deal, prompting analysts to speculate that an approval to the proposed acquisition was in sight.

The SEC had requested documents and communications related to Linn's use of non-GAAP measures and the company was cooperating with the regulator, Ellis told analysts.

Michael Peterson, an analyst at investment bank MLV & Co, said the inquiry was likely to be a minor one.

"If the preliminary inquiry were materially negative, I doubt the SEC would have signed off on a transaction of this magnitude," he said, referring to Linn's proposed deal with Berry Petroleum.

Linn raised its purchase price for Berry Petroleum by $600 million to $4.9 billion on Monday.

CEO Ellis said on Tuesday that the deal with Berry Petroleum could potentially close as early as mid-December.

Linn shares were trading at $30.46 on Tuesday afternoon on the Nasdaq.