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Santos rejects $7.2bn takeover offer from Harbour Energy

Australian gas producer Santos has rejected a A$9.5bn ($7.2bn) takeover bid made by private equity-backed Harbour Energy, saying that the offer undervalues the company.

In August, the US-based Harbour Energy had offered $4.55 a share to acquire the oil and gas producer Santos.

However, the non-binding conditional and indicative proposal was rejected in the same month as Santos considered the indicative price was inadequate and the sources of funds were uncertain.

The Australian Financial Review reported that Harbour Energy is planning to make another offer of about A$5.30 per share to Santos in the next few weeks. 

However, Santos said in a statement: "In response to media speculation today, Santos confirms that it is not currently engaged in discussions with, and has not received a current proposal from, Harbour Energy regarding a change of control transaction for Santos."

In 2015, Santos rejected a A$7.14bn bidding offer made by Scepter Partners, an investment firm backed by Asian and Middle East royalty.

If any deal happens, then Santos would sell its Gladstone liquefied natural gas (GLNG) plant in Queensland as well as an 11.5% stake in the ConocoPhillips-operated Darwin LNG facility and a 13.5% stake in ExxonMobil-owned Papua New Guinea LNG project, reported Bloomberg.

The GLNG plant, which was commissioned in September 2015, comprises a gas field development in the Surat and Bowen Basins, a 420km gas transmission pipeline from the gas fields to Gladstone and a two-train LNG plant on Curtis Island.

Harbour Energy, an investment vehicle managed by EIG Global Energy Partners (EIG), earlier announced its strategy to pursue acquisitions of oil and gas assets and strengthen its position in the sector globally.

Recently, Harbour Energy has closed the acquisition of oil and gas producing assets in the UK North Sea from Shell UK and its affiliates for $3bn. The acquired assets include stakes in ten operated and non-operated field areas.


Image: Santos headquarters in Adelaide, South Australia. Photo: courtesy of Danimations/Wikipedia.