UPDATE: 6:46 a.m. EST -- Shell announced Monday that it would cut about 2,800 jobs, or about 3 percent of the workforce of the combined company, following its takeover of BG Group. The downsizing, in addition to earlier job cuts, will be required to achieve the expected benefits of the recommended combination, the company said.

Original story: 

Chinese anti-trust regulators gave an unconditional clearance to a proposed merger between Royal Dutch Shell and BG Group Plc., Shell said Monday. China’s approval was the final regulatory hurdle for the $70-billion tie-up announced in April this year.

The merger has already received key approvals from American, Brazilian Australian and European regulators. The two companies said they now hoped the merger would be completed in early 2016.

Chinese anti-trust authorities were pressing Shell to offer discounts on long-term gas contracts prior to the approval, industry sources told Reuters. China -- the world’s top energy consumer -- faces a surplus of supplies as domestic demand continues to falter in 2015. Together with BG, Shell would supply around 30 percent of China's natural gas imports by 2017. 

Following China’s approval, Shell will seek to convince shareholders of both the companies to vote for the merger.

"This is a strategic deal that will make Shell a more profitable and resilient company in a world where oil and gas prices could remain lower for some time. We will now seek approval from both sets of shareholders as we move towards deal completion in early 2016," Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said.

Regulatory concerns and low energy prices have dogged the proposed Shell-BG deal since it was unveiled in April. The value of the deal has slipped from 47 billion pounds ($72 billion) to around 38 billion pounds ($58 billion) because of the falling price of Shell shares, according to a Reuters report in September.

Shares of BG Group were up 2 percent during morning trade Monday while Shell stock was also up marginally on the London Stock Exchange.

The merger is the biggest in the energy sector since Exxon Mobil bought XTO Energy for $31 billion in 2009 and would create Britain’s largest publicly traded company. The merger received the green light from Australian regulators just last month where the two companies hold large gas reserves in the eastern part of the country.