Santos submits merger proposal for leading Papua New Guinea company

Santos submits merger proposal for leading Papua New Guinea company

Australia’s second-largest oil and gas company Santos has made an all-share merger proposal for Papua New Guinea’s Oil Search that has been rejected by the PNG company.

Both companies made announcements today that provided details on the proposal.

Santos said it submitted a confidential, non-binding indicative all-scrip merger proposal to the Oil Search board on 25 June 2021.

A scheme of arrangement was proposed whereby Oil Search shareholders would receive 0.589 new Santos shares for each Oil Search share held.

If implemented, Oil Search shareholders would own 37% of the merged company and Santos shareholders 63%.

Santos said the the ownership ratio implied a transaction price of A$4.25 per Oil Search share, based on Santos’ closing price on 24 June 2021.

This represented a 12.3% premium to the Oil Search closing price on 24 June 2021 of A$3.78. Oil Search traded at A$3.84 on the morning of 20 July 2021.

Santos said it received a response from Oil Search on 9 July 2021 that acknowledged the strengths of the combined company and the rationale for the merger proposal but noted that the proposal did not offer appropriate value for Oil Search shareholders or a basis on which discussions could be progressed.

Oil Search confirmed today it had carefully assessed the change of control proposal but it was rejected “as it was determined to not be in Oil Search shareholders’ best interests on the terms and value proposed”.

Santos said it is seeking to engage further with the Oil Search board and “continues to believe that the merger proposal represents an extremely attractive opportunity to deliver compelling value accretion to both Santos and Oil Search shareholders”.

Santos has a significant business in Papua New Guinea where Oil Search is the operator of all PNG’s producing oilfields; the pair are co-owners in the PNG LNG asset, and the proposed P’nyang development, among other interests.

Santos said the potential merger of the two was “a logical combination of two industry leaders to create an unrivalled regional champion of size and scale”, and would have a number of features including:

• pro forma market capitalisation of A$22 billion which positions the merged entity in the top-20 ASX-listed companies and the 20 largest global oil and gas companies

• diversified portfolio of high-quality, long-life assets across Australia and Papua New Guinea

• robust balance sheet with strong liquidity that can self-fund growth options and an investment grade credit rating.

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