LNG Developer InterOil Reviewing Rival to $2.2 Billion Bid

  • Papau New Guinea LNG developer receives unsolicted proposal
  • Company says it’s still recommending Total, Oil Search offer

InterOil Corp., a Papua New Guinea-based natural gas explorer, has received an unsolicited takeover offer that the company is reviewing while it continues to recommend an earlier $2.2 billion bid by Total SA and Oil Search Ltd.

InterOil has taken steps required under its existing agreement with Oil Search to engage in discussions and negotiations with third parties, it said in a statement Thursday, without identifying the new bidder. The company has also scheduled a shareholder meeting to consider the Oil Search transaction for July 28, according to a separate statement.

InterOil rose 7.6 percent to $45.27 at 8:46 a.m. New York before the start of regular trading. As of yesterday, the shares had risen 33 percent since the Oil Search offer.

In a two step deal announced last month, Oil Search plans to buy 100 percent of InterOil for $2.2 billion, then sell the majority of the acquired gas and exploration assets to Paris-based Total for about $1.2 billion up front.

At stake are natural gas reserves expected to underpin an increase in exports from Papua New Guinea, seen as a bright spot in an oversupplied LNG market because of lower development costs. Oil Search is a partner in Exxon Mobil Corp.’s $19 billion PNG LNG venture, the Pacific nation’s first gas export project. It also holds a stake in the proposed Papua LNG project, the country’s second development, in which Total also holds a share.

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