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New takeover bid for Santos

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Santos says it is in shareholders’ interests for it to “engage further” with a renewed bid by a US private equity firm to take over the South Australian-based oil and gas giant.

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In a statement to the ASX today, Santos confirmed Harbour Energy Ltd had made a renewed offer last Thursday to take over South Australia’s most significant company.

It’s the third time Harbour has raised its bid for Santos, this time valuing the company at about $13.5 billion, prompting new Premier Steven Marshall to put in a call to the firm behind Harbour this morning.

Santos says Harbour – an investment vehicle formed by American private equity firm EIG Global Energy Partners – is proposing an all-cash bid worth $6.50 per share, which represents a 28 per cent premium on last week’s closing price.

“The Santos Board considers that, based on the indicative offer price of A$6.50 per share, it is in the interests of shareholders to engage further with Harbour,” Santos said in a statement today.

Santos has granted due diligence to Harbour – whose first proposal in August last year was for $4.55 per share – but warned shareholders the proposal may still not result in an acceptable offer.

“Directors therefore advise that Santos shareholders take no action in relation to the Harbour proposal at this time,” the company said.

“Regardless of the outcome of engagement with Harbour, the board and management remain focused on continuing to deliver shareholder value through the transformation of Santos into a low cost, reliable and high performance business with strong growth potential.”

Harbour’s initial proposal of $4.55 per share put forth in August last year was rejected by the board on the grounds that the bid was inadequate and the sources of funds were uncertain.

The current proposal is subject to a number of regulatory and financing conditions.

Harbour said it had no plans to cut staff or relocate Santos’s headquarters from Adelaide, should its bid be accepted.

In a statement, Harbour said its “strategy for Santos is to utilize the company’s core assets and organizational capabilities as a platform for growth in Australia, throughout Asia, and with respect to the global LNG sector”.

“In support of this strategy, Harbour expects to invest further in Santos’ existing assets and to pursue the acquisition of additional natural gas and LNG-focused assets in Australia and internationally.

“These plans are expected to contribute to Australian domestic energy security and economic growth. As Harbour is focused on investment and expansion, successful execution of our strategy does not rely on staff reductions. Furthermore, there is no intention to relocate the Santos headquarters from Adelaide.”

The importance of the Adelaide head office was reinforced to Harbour by the Premier today.

“Premier Steven Marshall has impressed upon senior representatives of Harbour Energy the importance of retaining the head office in Adelaide and growing resource jobs in South Australia,” said Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

“The Premier’s priorities were received positively by Harbour Energy.

“Increasing investment in SA, growing jobs in the state’s resources sector, and keeping the head office in SA are all important aspects of this bid.”

 

– with AAP

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