LONDON (Reuters) - Oil company Burren Energy BUR.L said on Tuesday it had rejected a number of takeover approaches worth up to 1.55 billion pounds, including one from Italy’s Eni (ENI.MI).
The stock shot to a record high on speculation of a bidding war for Burren, an oil explorer with Turkmenistan operations and a partner with Eni in the Republic of Congo. Shares were up 28.96 percent at 1,189 pence at 4:08 p.m.
Burren had rejected the bids since they “fail, by a significant margin, to recognise the value which the board strongly believes is inherent in the company”, it said in a statement.
Burren did not detail the offers.
Eni, Europe’s fourth-biggest oil company by market value, said it had offered 1,050 pence a share, or 1.48 billion pounds. It is continuing to seek talks with Burren, Eni said in a statement.
“The company appears to be in play,” Oriel Securities analyst Richard Rose said.
“We believe the best that can be hoped for is that they attract competing offers and maximise the take-out price.”
Buying Burren would give Eni 80 percent of the M’Boundi oil field in the Republic of Congo as well as entry to gas-rich Turkmenistan, Dresdner Kleinwort analyst Colin Smith said in a research note.
Eni could bid up to 14 pounds a share for Burren on a value-neutral basis for the Italian company, Smith said.
Eni shares were up 1.35 percent at 26.26 euros, just ahead of the DJ Stoxx European oil and gas sector index .SXEP.
Interest in Turkmen energy projects has intensified since the death of the Central Asian nation’s eccentric leader, Saparmurat Niyazov, in December 2006.
Burren’s business model is split between exploration and the acquisition of discovered resources which it then brings onstream.
Chief Executive Atul Gupta told Reuters last month Burren was targeting deals and they could include joint ventures. He added that there was “tremendous interest” in Burren’s Turkmenistan operations.
In March, Burren and Eni agreed to split a stake in a Congolese oil field that Eni sought to buy from France’s Maurel et Prom (MAUP.PA).
Eni said in July that it was open to acquisitions after a 9-billion-euro (6.2 billion pound) buying spree this year. SIA.L and Tullow Oil (TLW.L), they say.
Additional reporting by Ian Simpson in Milan