London, Aug 22: The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation has raced into a lead in the bid to buy Imperial Energy, the 1.2billion pound London-based oil exploration and production company.
The Indian Government has given approval to the investment arm of the oil company, ONGC Videsh Ltd., to go ahead with the full bid. The Indians have shrugged off challenges from China's Sinopec and KNOC of Korea, and are now in a position to close the deal as early as next week, insiders said. In London, the Deutsche Bank, which is acting on behalf of the ONGC, approached Imperial's top institutional investors to ask for an irrevocable commitment to their offer.
A successful deal could generate a windfall of nearly 80 million pound for Imperial chairman Peter Levine, who founded the company in 2004 and retains a six percent stake, The Telegraph reported.
After months of speculation that a bid for Imperial would fail, rumours that it was now looking increasingly likely fuelled a surge in the company's shares on Thursday.
The ONGC, which has 38 oil and gas projects in 18 countries, approached Imperial Energy in July with an offer of 12.90 pounds per share, kick-starting a ferocious international bid battle for the company whose assets are based in Russia and Kazakhstan.
At the end of July, Sinopec, which is one of China's biggest state-owned oil companies, gate crashed the sale of Imperial by launching its own bid.
Imperial's board allowed Sinopec to start due diligence by giving it access to the data room. It was the first time a Chinese firm had challenged an Indian company in a competitive auction of a London-listed company.
KNOC, the Korean National Oil Company, joined the fray and was also given access to the data room.
Media reports suggested that ONGC has made it clear that it is prepared to increase the bid to 15 pounds per share if Sinopec makes a counter offer.