OSLO/BENGALURU (Reuters) - Norwegian energy firm DNO ASA (DNO.OL) expanded its foothold in Iraqi Kurdistan on Friday by offering to purchase rival Gulf Keystone Petroleum Ltd (GKP.L) for $300 million, following the latter's junk bond deal this month.
DNO, which will become by far the largest foreign oil producer in the Kurdish-run region, offered to buy shares at a 20-percent premium to the price at which Gulf Keystone will issue new shares as part of a wider restructuring.
Shares in Gulf Keystone, which operates the Shaikan oilfield in Iraqi Kurdistan and produces about 40,000 barrels per day (bpd), rose as much as 28 percent to a high of 5 pence.
DNO, together with Gulf Keystone and London-listed Genel (GENL.L), operates in the region, in which it runs the Tawke field that in May averaged close to 118,000 bpd.
Gulf Keystone saw a third of its market value wiped out after announcing its bondholders had agreed to swap $500 million of its debt for equity.
With a market value of $3 billion in its heyday four years ago, Gulf Keystone is currently worth around $60 million.
International operators in Kurdistan, which is estimated to hold 45 billion barrels of oil reserves, have faced delayed payments, falling oil prices and a worsening geopolitical situation in areas run by the Kurdistan Regional Government.
Iraq's Kurds said they are ready to strike an agreement with the central government in Baghdad to increase oil exports if it guarantees them monthly revenue of $1 billion, more than double what they make currently from selling oil.
Gulf Keystone said separately on Friday that it was reviewing the DNO proposal.
DNO's move could offer a way out for those note and bond holders who may be unable or unwilling to hold Gulf Keystone equity for an extended period.
The additional offer of 170 million DNO shares, or about 13.6 percent of DNO share capital after completion of the deal, would give Gulf Keystone investors a small stake in the Shaikan field, as well as DNO's other assets.
DNO shares were up 0.9 percent.
Source text for Eikon:
Further company coverage: [DNO.OL] [GKP.L]
Reporting By Ole Petter Skonnord in OSLO and Esha Vaish in BENGALURU; Writing by Amanda Cooper; Editing by Dale Hudson