Cove’s Fate Will Probably Be Decided in Auction, Investec Says

Royal Dutch Shell Plc and PTT Exploration & Production Pcl will probably battle for U.K. oil and gas explorer Cove Energy Plc in a sealed bid auction, Investec Bank Plc said.

The U.K. Takeover Panel may ask for revised final offers should Shell and PTT’s competing bids remain live and not final on 17 July, Stuart Joyner, head of oil and gas analysis at Investec, wrote in an e-mailed report. If the auction process is announced, then it may make sense for Shell to improve its offer once more before the deadline.

PTT’s most recent offer for Cove of 1.2 billion pounds ($1.9 billion), or 240 pence a share, topped Shell’s 220-pence bid. The bidding war may end in the richest takeover premium on record for an oil and natural-gas explorer.

Cove owns an 8.5 percent stake in Mozambique’s Rovuma Area 1, where recoverable natural gas amounting to more than six times the U.K.’s existing reserves has been discovered.

Shell has a chance to extend its offer before 7 a.m. U.K. time tomorrow. PTT can do this by the same time on July 14, according to Investec.

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