* Purchase would have given it access to North Sea gas
* Sterling said Vitol's C$192 mln offer was too low
* Sterling shareholders propose new Chairman
By Emma Farge
GENEVA, May 13 Swiss trading house Vitol
has dropped plans to bid for Canada-listed oil and
gas producer Sterling Resources, Sterling said on
Monday, after talks stalled over price.
Vitol, which is also a Sterling shareholder, said in
February it would offer C$192 million ($190 million) for
Sterling, giving it a foothold in the North Sea oil and gas
Many large commodity trading houses have sought to secure
physical assets such as oilfields or aluminium smelters as part
of a bid to extend their control over supply chains.
"Vitol never made a final bid. The fact that they did not
leaves it in abeyance," Sterling Chief Executive Mike Azancot
told Reuters via telephone on Monday.
Vitol declined to comment on the reasons for abandoning its
takeover plans. Last month, Vitol said that it had not proceeded
with an offer because Sterling had not provided an independent
valuation of the company.
Sterling said in April that the Vitol offer did not
represent fair value for the company.
As part of a strategic review which Azancot said was
prompted by the Vitol offer, a group of Sterling shareholders
have proposed replacing its Chairman Walt DeBoni with a former
Centrica executive Jacob Ulrich.
A decision will be made on June 11.
Sterling's share price has fallen by more than 50 percent
since this time last year. At the end of 2012, Sterling had a
total financial debt of 87.9 million pounds ($135 million).
Sterling, which has sought to raise funds to develop its
long-delayed Breagh gas field in the North Sea, on April 17
issued a $225 million secured bond.
Azancot said that the company expected its first gas
production in August.