Gulf Keystone soars on talk of Exxon bid

SHARES in oil explorer Gulf Keystone closed up 7.7 per cent yesterday on reports that Exxon Mobil was lining up a takeover bid.

Its shares had rocketed as much as 32 per cent during the day, and was the second most-traded stock on AIM, with 46.8m shares changing hands.

Gulf released a statement at 16.10 saying that the board was not in discussions about a sale, though “there is clearly increasing interest in the region in which [the firm] operates”.

Exxon was named as an interested bidder for Bermuda-based Gulf Keystone – which has made huge oil finds in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq – with reports suggesting a bid of up to £7bn. Exxon would not comment.

Analysts dismissed the prospect of such a high bid from the Texas-based oil giant, which made headlines with its own recent entry into the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq.

“We fear an element of yuletide wishful thinking may also be playing a part,” said Richard Savage, oil analyst at brokerage Mirabaud.

Kurdistan said last month that Exxon had signed contracts for six exploration blocks.

And Gulf Keystone said in September it was seeking a buyer for its 20 per cent interest in the Akri-Bijeel block in Kurdistan in order to help finance development of other assets. Industry sources said the firm has mulled a sale of other parts, or all, of its interests in Kurdistan.

ADVISERS: LAZARD

SPIRO YOUAKIM
GLOBAL HEAD OF BASIC INDUSTRIES

Lazard and BMO Capital Markets have jointly advised European Goldfields as it agreed a takeover offer from Eldorado Gold worth around £1.55bn.

The takeover has been agreed by the boards of both companies.

The Lazard team was led by Spiro Youakim, global head of basic industries, who joined the firm in August 2008 from Citigroup. Alongside Youakim were Chris Seherr-Thoss and Nicola Enticknap.

Lazard operates in 42 cities across 27 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Central and South America.

With origins dating back to 1848, the firm provides advice on mergers and acquisitions, strategic matters, restructuring and capital structure, capital raising and corporate finance, as well as asset management services to corporations, partnerships, institutions, governments, and individuals.

The BMO team was led by Egizio Bianchini, co-head of metals and mining, and Gary Mattan, a managing director in mergers and acquisitions.

Canada-based BMO Financial Group serves 13m personal, commercial, corporate and institutional customers in North America and internationally.

European Goldfields’ nominated adviser and joint broker is Liberum Capital, with a team led by Michael Rawlinson, a company director and head of mining, alongside corporate financier Tom Fyson.