Total pulls out of Wessex bid

City A.M. Reporter
FRANCE’S Total yesterday pulled out of a £70m bid for AIM-listed oil explorer Wessex Exploration.

The oil giant was looking to gain a greater share of a huge field off the coast of French Guyana, in which it already has a 25 per cent stake.

The oil major said yesterday it had decided against pursuing Wessex, after the company’s board said that shareholders were against the 10p a share offer.

Wessex owns 1.25 per cent of the Zaedyus project, which could hold as much as one billion barrels of oil, as well as onshore licences closer to home in Hampshire.

Wessex told Total about the unfavourable reaction of investors last month, leaving the French group with a deadline of Monday to revise their offer under takeover rules.

In a statement, Wessex said “The board are of the view that the approach of 10 pence per ordinary share undervalues the company and was inadequate to secure their support for any offer which Total might consider at this level.”

The company holds its share in the French Guyana field through a joint venture with fellow AIM-listed Northern Petroleum, which has also been the subject of takeover speculation.

Wessex added: “Wessex confirms that, having raised £12m (gross) of additional funding in November 2011, the company is fully funded for all current requirements, including participation in a further Zaedyus appraisal well.”