London: Russia-focused oil firm Imperial Energy Corp. Plc. said on Monday it has received a bid approach from a party it did not name but which industry sources identified as India’s state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd, or ONGC.
Imperial gave no details in its statement, which it said was in response to press speculation, except to confirm an approach. An ONGC spokesman declined to comment.
“OVL keeps chasing seven-eight opportunities. However, being a non-executive member, I am not aware of this development,” R.S. Sharma, chairman and managing director of ONGC and chairman of its overseas exploration arm ONGC Videsh Ltd, or OVL, said.
For sale? An Imperial Energy oil unit. The company has received a bid which may have been placed by ONGC.
R.S. Butola, managing director and chief executive officer of OVL, could not be reached for comment as his office said he was overseas.
The sources, who are familiar with the situation, said Imperial would be unlikely to accept a bid below £12 (about Rs1,020) per share. Shares in Imperial Energy were up 16.58% at 900 pence on the London Stock Exchange at 12.45 UK time. Analysts at Merrill Lynch and Co. Inc. put their estimate of Imperial’s net asset value at 1,700 pence per share. One dealer expressed doubt about whether the approach would lead to a deal.
ONGC has been charged by the government with securing energy resources overseas to power India’s booming economy but the company has not been as successful as Chinese rivals in closing deals. On Monday, The Times of India said on its website that ONGC was in talks with Imperial about an alliance that could result in ONGC taking an equity stake in Imperial.
Imperial said in November 2007 that Gazprombank, the banking arm of Russian gas export monopoly OAO Gazprom, had offered to buy a quarter of its stock at a discount to the market price but the talks ended without a deal.
A Mint staff writer contributed to this story.