Bidding begins as Salamander courts rival duo

Caitlin Morrison
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LONDON-LISTED Salamander Energy yesterday confirmed that it has received a conditional proposal from Ophir Energy with respect to a potential offer for the company.

Salamander has also been approached by a consortium led by Spanish firm Compania Espanola de Petroleos (Cepsa) and Jynwel Capital.

Asia-focused exploration firm Salamander said that it is seeking to clarify the terms of Ophir’s offer, and that it had not received the detail of the Cepsa consortium’s proposal.

Ophir and Cepsa were previously reported to be preparing rival bids valuing the company at £275m, or around 103p per share.

However, analysts at BMO Capital Markets said they would be surprised if Salamander’s management were to recommend an offer at this price “particularly given their stance just a few months ago, apparently rejecting an offer at a much higher price”. Salamander previously took itself off the market in July 2014, after looking for a buyer at 200p per share.

The potential bidders have until 5pm on 24 November to declare their intent under the Takeover Code, although this deadline can be extended with the consent of the panel.

Salamander also addressed reports that it was in sales discussions as a result of a collapse in its deal with Sona Petroleum. The company agreed the $280m (£174m) sale of a 40 per cent interest in its Gulf of Thailand concessions to Malaysia-based Sona in July 2014, yet concerns had been raised that a continued decline in oil prices might lead to the deal being called off.

Salamander yesterday stated: “Contrary to remarks in the press, the Sona transaction remains on track for completion before the end of 2014, in keeping with the timetable and strategy previously outlined. The $280m of proceeds from the Sona transaction would strengthen Salamander’s balance sheet and would place the company in a strong position to benefit from opportunities arising from current market conditions.” Salamander’s shares rose by 16.5 per cent yesterday.

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