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Santos Admits It Rejected $7.2B Takeover Bid

Australia’s second-largest energy company Santos said it had in August rejected a takeover bid from a private equity-backed company, Harbour Energy. The statement was issued in response to media reports that Santos was currently in negotiations with Harbour Energy.

The Australian energy company said Harbour Energy had offered it US$3.46 (A$4.55) per share in an indicative bid, but Santos rejected it as inadequate. Also, the company said, the source of funding was uncertain. Harbour wanted to acquire all the shares of Santos, valuing the company at US$7.2 billion (A$9.5 billion).

The fresh media reports have pegged Harbour’s new offer for Santos at US$8.36 billion (A$11 billion).

Santos is active in oil and LNG and, according to an unnamed source who spoke to Reuters, it is the latter that prompted Harbour Energy’s interest in the company. Harbour Energy is headed by former Shell executive Linda Cook, who was in charge of Shell’s LNG business in Australia.

Santos is the operator of the Gladstone LNG project, and also has gas assets in Papua New Guinea, which is shaping up to be a pretty hot spot for the commodity, and in the Copper Basin, as well as offshore the Northern Territory.

Its flagship Gladstone project has a liquefaction capacity of 7.8 million metric tons annually, but over the first half of this year it only produced 2.4 million tons.

Related: Falling Iraqi Oil Output Drags OPEC Production Down

Santos earlier this year said it expected its total oil and gas production this year to reach 57-60 million barrels of oil equivalent, with sales seen at 77-82 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Battered like everyone else by the oil price crash, Santos is now focusing on its core business including a controversial coal seam gas project, Narrabri, which has drawn a lot of opposition.

The company seems to be again a tasty morsel for investors whose appetite for deals in the oil and gas—especially in the LNG-space—has begun to recover with the higher oil prices and forecasts of growing LNG demand, especially in Asia, notably in China.

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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