POTENTIAL QUALIFIED ASSET: UK’s Ophir offers to buy Salamander if the latter cancels deal with SPAC
SONA Petroleum Bhd’s bid to buy its first qualified asset (QA) since its listing about 15 months ago looks to be derailed by British oil and gas explorer Ophir Energy Plc.
Sona had in July sealed a deal to buy a 40 per cent interest in two oil and gas blocks in the Gulf of Thailand from Salamander Energy Plc for US$280 million (RM938 million).
However, Ophir yesterday offered to buy Salamander in an all-stock deal on condition that the latter cancels its deal with Sona.
The Ophir offer values Salamander at £266.9 million (RM1.4 billion), based on its closing price of 180.1 pence on Thursday and the 259.13 million outstanding Salamander shares, according to Thomson Reuters data.
If the deal goes through, it would be another heartbreak for Sona, which is still trying to conclude its maiden QA with the RM550 million cash pile raised from its initial public offering (IPO) in July 2013.
The company had previously scoured for oilfields in Australia and Indonesia, among others.
In September last year, speculation was rife that Sona was looking to take up a stake in Singapore-listed RH Petrogas Ltd, a company controlled by Sarawak tycoon Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King, for reportedly US$135 million. The deal did not go through.
Sona was the third special purpose acqui sition company (SPAC) listed on Bursa Malaysia. The SPAC guidelines require SPACs to spend the bulk of the monies raised from their IPOs on QAs within three years of listing.
Sources familiar with the Sona-Salamander deal, however, said the US$280 million offer will remain “live” until a firm offer from Ophir is submitted.
“The announcement by Salamander yesterday is only about a possible offer, and not a firm one. As of today, Salamander has not extended the ‘put up or shut up’ period,” one source said.
The source added that Salamander had requested Ophir to submit an offer by Monday.
At this point of time, Sona’s offer looks more compelling than what Ophir had put on the table for Salamander, the source said.
“If the official offer by Ophir is the same as it was stated in itd ststement today, Salamander is more than likely to decline,” the source said yesterday.
Another source noted that the key roadblock for Ophir to submit a firm offer is the support from Ophir’s and Salamander’s institutional shareholders.
Meanwhile, under the Ophir offer, Salamander shareholders would be entitled to 0.5719 Ophir shares for each Salamander share they hold, the companies said in a joint statement yesterday.
Salamander had on October 27 said it received proposals from Ophir, which has oil and gas exploration assets in Africa, and a Spanish-led consortium Compania Espanola de Petroleos (CEPSA).
The consortium walked away from its bid on November 17.
Salamander said it had offered 121 pence per share in cash and one contingent value rights of up to 24 pence per share.