London, Aug.4 : China's Sinopec has reportedly made an approach to the London-listed oil and gas explorer, Imperial Energy, which could derail takeover talks between that group and India's Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).
The Chinese state-owned oil group, also known as China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, made an approach to Imperial last week and is in the process of conducting due diligence on a formal offer.
The move is the latest sign of China's ambition to buy natural resource assets. Imperial is expected to confirm it has received a second approach when the London stock market opens on Monday, reports the Financial Times.
Sinopec's move could scupper a 12.90-pound a share, or a 1.3 billion pound approach from ONGC.
Imperial last month announced it was in talks regarding a possible offer and although it did not name the potential bidder. It is known that ONGC was behind the bid.
Imperial, founded by chairman Peter Levine in 2004, has built up a number of assets across Russia and other countries in the former Soviet Union. It produced about 10,000 barrels of oil a day in December last year and plans to raise this to 80,000 b/d by the end of 2011.
The company has been the subject of approaches in the past.
Last year a unit of Gazprom, Russia's state-controlled gas company, approached it, but agreement could not be reached.
Shares in Imperial have been one of the worst market performers among mid-sized oil companies in London this year. They have risen as high as 14.27 pounds and as low as 637 pence during the past year.