Bridge Climbs as Pareto Brands It Takeover Candidate: Oslo Mover

Bridge Energy ASA rose to a three-month high in Oslo trading as Pareto Securities ASA said the Norwegian oil company may be a takeover candidate due to the low price of its shares compared with the value of its assets.

The shares gained as much as 4.2 percent to 11.15 kroner, the highest intraday level since Dec. 3 as of 11:10 a.m. local time. Trading volumes were almost three times the three-month daily average for the Nesbru-based company.

“We think Bridge is a likely takeover candidate this year due to a combination of low pricing compared to core asset values and solid exploration track record,” Pareto said in an e-mailed note to clients today.

Last week’s 203 million-pound ($308-million) bid by Ithaca Energy Inc. for Valiant Petroleum Plc “highlighted the value of tax loss positions in the U.K. sector” of the North Sea, Pareto said. Applying the same pricing to Bridge’s tax-loss position there implies a value of 9 kroner per share, Pareto said.

That’s before the value of the company’s producing assets, the Garantiana and Asha finds and Bridge’s cash are added in, worth at least another 14 kroner a share, said the broker, which has a buy rating and 18 kroner price target on the stock.

Bridge Energy, which has assets in the U.K. and Norwegian areas of the North Sea, is seeking to boost production to take advantage of oil prices which have climbed 22 percent since the end of 2009. The company had proven and probable developed reserves of 3.26 million barrels of oil equivalent as of Dec. 31, up from 2.67 million a year earlier, it said Feb. 26.

Shares in the Bridge Energy have gained 13 percent in the last 12 months, giving the company a market value of 707 million kroner ($124 million).

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