Vitol to offer $192 million for Sterling Resources

Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:44am EST
 
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By Emma Farge

GENEVA (Reuters) - Top oil trading house Vitol plans to offer C$192 million ($192 million) for Canada-listed oil and gas group Sterling Resources (SLG.V: Quote), to gain a foothold in the North Sea oil and gas sector.

The planned deal, worth C$0.85 per Sterling share - a 79 percent premium to Tuesday's close at C$0.475, is the latest in a series of moves by Swiss firm Vitol to acquire physical energy assets.

Following the model of Glencore (GLEN.L: Quote), many private trading houses have, in recent years, used their growing financial firepower to buy smaller rivals and increase their control of commodity supply chains.

"Vitol has held discussions with Sterling's management and, based on the company's inability to find an acceptable long-term financing solution, Vitol Anker has decided to pursue an offer for the company," Vitol said on Wednesday.

The bid follows the purchase of a Swiss oil refinery from insolvent refiner Petroplus last year and the gradual expansion of oil exploration in west Africa.

Calgary-based Sterling Resources, drilling for oil and gas in the North Sea and with energy assets in France, the Netherlands and Romania, said it had received an unsolicited takeover bid from Vitol.

"Sterling has also had discussions with third parties on other potential transactions including business combinations, sales of subsidiaries and assets and additional financing opportunities," it said.

Sterling shares were up 75 percent to C$0.83 by 1035 ET.   Continued...