Thailand's PTT closes in on explorer Cove

Thai oil firm PTT Exploration & Production moved a step closer to finalising its $1.9bn (£1.2bn) takeover of Cove Energy after securing acceptances for its offer from 72 per cent of shareholders in the Mozambique-focused gas firm.

PTT, which in May set a minimum level for acceptances of 90 per cent, said it would extend its offer again, giving shareholders until 31 July to accept it.

Rival suitor Shell left PTT in pole position to acquire Cove after ruling out raising its bid to match PTT's higher offer earlier in July, bringing to a close a five month bidding war.

PTT and Shell had been battling to buy Cove, attracted by the company's position in huge gas fields discovered off the coast of Mozambique which look set to transform the east African country into a major supplier of energy to Asia.

The takeover of Cove will help state-controlled PTT ramp up production as part of its mission to boost energy supplies for Thailand, which uses natural gas to generate 70 per cent of its electricity.