Gulf Keystone not talking to Exxon on $11 billion sale

Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:56am EST
 
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By Tom Bergin

LONDON (Reuters) - Explorer Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP.L: Quote) said it was not in talks with U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N: Quote) about a 7 billion pounds ($11 billion) sale, scotching a newspaper report that sent the Kurdistan-focused group's shares 24 percent higher.

The Independent on Sunday newspaper reported Exxon was considering making an estimated 800 pence per share bid -- five times Gulf Keystone's closing share price on Friday.

But Gulf Keystone said in a statement on Monday it was "not in discussions with regard to a sale of the company."

Exxon declined to comment.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said last month Exxon had signed contracts for six exploration blocks, the latest in a list of ever-larger corporations investing in the area.

The increased investment reflects signs the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq may be about to agree a deal with Baghdad on oil revenue sharing and licensing.

Gulf Keystone, which says it has found billions of barrels of oil at its Shaikan discovery, has frequently been the subject of takeover rumors and said in September it was seeking a buyer for its 20 percent interest in the Akri-Bijeel block to help finance ongoing development of other assets.

Industry sources said the company has mulled a possible sale of other parts, or all, of its interests in Kurdistan.   Continued...