Wessex shares surge as Total lines up bid to snap up more assets in Guiana

SHARES in oil company Wessex Exploration soared more than 30 per cent yesterday after French major Total said it is looking to buy the company for around £71m.

Total confirmed it has made an approach with a potential cash offer to buy the company for 10p a share.

Wessex owns a 1.25 per cent interest in a venture in French Guiana, where a large oil discovery was made last year.

The other partners in the Zaedyus oil discovery are Tullow Oil and Shell. Total is already the largest stakeholder with a 45 per cent interest. Analysts believe the discovery in September has the potential for millions of barrels.

Total will have until 16 April to decide whether to lodge a formal bid under market rules.

A statement from Wessex said: “The board of directors of Wessex has confirmed that in the absence of a higher competing offer and subject to shareholder consultation it would currently be minded to give its recommendation should a firm offer be made at this price by Total.”

ADVISERS: ROTHSCHILD

JAMES SMITH AND ROGER ADER

Rothschild is advising Total on its bid for Wessex Exploration.

James Smith, director of the oil and gas team at Rothschild, is leading on the deal. He joined the company in 2008, and his expertise lies mainly in M&A deals involving energy and fossil fuels, having worked for the global oil and gas advisory boutique Harrison Lovegrove and for Merrill Lynch as an oil and gas specialist.

He advised oil company Cairn on the sale of its Indian operations to Vedanta Resources, which was completed late last year.

Roger Ader, a managing director at Rothschild, is also working on the deal.

WH Ireland is advising Wessex, which is waiting to see if Total will make a formal bid. John Wakefield and Marc Davies are leading the team from the firm.

Oxford-educated Davies was previously at Blue Oar Securities as a corporate finance specialist and worked in business recovery at PwC.