Sona Said to Get Malaysian Approval for Salamander Thai Assets

Sona Petroleum Bhd., a company with no assets or track record, won approval from the Malaysian Securities Commission to buy a stake in two Thai oil and gas blocks, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

The so-called blank check company targets to complete the deal by the end of this year after getting shareholder approvals, the person said, asking not to be identified as the details aren’t yet public. Sona, which raised 550 million ringgit ($164 million) in an initial public offering last year, agreed in June to buy 40 percent of London-based Salamander Energy Plc’s assets in the Gulf of Thailand for $281 million.

The Salamander assets would be the first for Sona since its listing and pave the way for the Kuala Lumpur-based company to become an independent upstream oil and gas company. To complete the purchase, it will need to overcome African explorer Ophir Energy Plc’s offer to acquire Salamander on the condition it doesn’t sell the Thai assets.

Saw Choo Boon, vice president of business development at Sona, declined to comment when contacted by phone today. Malaysia’s Securities Commission head of corporate affairs Jaya Menon could not be immediately reached for comment when contacted on her mobile and office.

Ophir said in an exchange filing today Salamander accepted its all-stock offer to buy the company. One of the conditions of Ophir’s offer is that Salamander shareholders reject the sale of the Thai assets to Sona. Owners of a 25.9 percent stake in Salamander have agreed to accept the Ophir offer and reject the Sona deal, according to today’s filing.

Sona is trying to buy a stake in the Bualuang oilfield, which has been operating since 2008 and is expected to produce an average of 11,000 to 14,000 barrels of oil daily this year, according to Salamander’s website. It would also gain an interest in an nearby exploration concession.

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