Premier spurns a £3bn tie-up

Suzie Neuwirth
PREMIER Oil has rejected two takeover offers from Africa-focused Ophir Energy, which would have created a £3bn combined oil and gas explorer.

The latest approach, an all-share merger proposal, was unanimously rejected by Premier’s board a fortnight ago, according to The Sunday Times.

A deal would have created the fifth largest oil and gas explorer listed in London, behind BP, Shell, BG and Tullow Oil.

It is understood that Premier rejected the offer due to a lack of strategic fit between the two companies, partly due to geographic disparities. Premier has a large project in the Falklands, while Ophir Energy is developing a field off Tanzania.

Ophir Energy is not thought to be planning another takeover bid.

Premier has seen its share price fall by a fifth over the past year, after a stream of downgrades to production guidance and missed targets. In February it announced that chief executive Simon Lockett would be stepping down after nine years in the role.

Ophir floated on the London stock market only three years ago and its shares last closed at 243.30p.

The two FTSE 250-listed companies declined to comment.