Gulf Keystone Pares Gains After Saying Not in Talks on Sale

Gulf Keystone Petroleum Ltd. (GKP) pared gains after climbing to a record in London trading after it denied a report that Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) is considering a 7 billion-pound ($11 billion) takeover offer.

Gulf Keystone, active in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, surged as much as 33 percent to 219.75 pence, the highest since the company listed in 2004. The shares closed up 7.7 percent at 178.25 pence, giving the Bermuda-based company a market value of 1.5 billion pounds.

“Whilst there is clearly increasing interest in the region in which Gulf Keystone operates, the board is not in discussions with regard to a sale of the company,” Gulf Keystone said in a statement.

The Independent on Sunday reported yesterday that Exxon, the world’s largest oil company, is weighing a bid that would value Gulf Keystone at about eight pounds a share.

Last month, Exxon became the latest explorer to join the hunt for oil and gas in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, home to about 40 percent of Iraq’s estimated 115 billion barrels of reserves. Gulf Keystone has announced the discovery of as much as 10 billion barrels of oil in the Shaikan field in northern Iraq.

Alan Jeffers, an Exxon spokesman based in Irving, Texas, didn’t immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

Kurdistan has attracted interest from small- and mid-sized foreign explorers since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 opened the region for the first time in decades.

The Iraqi central government in Baghdad said this month it will uphold agreements with Exxon “for now” after the company signed energy contracts the government considers illegal with the Kurdish region. Kurdistan and Iraq have yet to determine how oil revenues will be split.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Swint in London at bswint@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

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