Monaco oil and gas company competes for NZOG's hand
A second contender has entered the ring for control of NZX-listed NZ Oil and Gas (NZOG).
OG Oil and Gas, a minor shareholder, has indicated it will offer NZOG shareholders 77 cents a share, outbidding an offer by Singapore-owned Zeta Resources.
Shares in NZOG have lifted more than 10c to 72.5c, slightly above Zeta's offer of 72c per share.
NZOG is largely cashed up after recently selling stakes in the Tui and Kupe oilfields, its only producing investments.
Central to the bidding war are two strikingly divergent views on NZOG's exploration permits.
Zeta has said it wants to cut NZOG's overheads and views further exploration was risky.
But OG Oil and Gas is keen for NZOG take advantage of its interest in the Clipper exploration permit off the Canterbury coast, and believes its interest in the Toroa prospect off the Otago coast should be "diligently pursued".
While it has yet to submit a formal offer, OG Oil and Gas has indicated on its website it will also seek greater control of NZOG, up to 70 per cent.
Zeta's offer is for full shares only, and it would scale back after hitting 50.01 per cent. However, it is NZOG's largest shareholder, and effective controls nearly 30 per cent with the help of other shareholders.
OG Oil and Gas, which holds a much smaller 4.3 per cent stake, is owned by Monaco-based Ofer Global, which was founded by Eyal Ofer, the son of shipping mogul Sammy Ofer.
Ofer was one of Israel's wealthiest men when he died in 2011 and the company, now chaired by his Eyal Ofer, is also involved in real estate, hotels, financial investments and oil and gas production platforms.
OG Oil and Gas said it believed Zeta's strategy of returning $50 million to shareholders would leave NZOG too depleted to attract possible exploration partners.
"We think Zeta's stated focus on reducing NZOG's financial resources and reducing headcount is in direct conflict with enhancing shareholder value, puts the company at risk of losing its valuable foothold in New Zealand and does little or nothing to increase private-sector investment in the New Zealand economy."
It first dealt with NZOG when one of Ofer's subsidiaries, Omni Offshore Terminals, invested more than US$300 million (NZ$411m) in a floating production ship for the Maari oilfield.
John Kidd, an energy analyst for Woodward Partners, has said previously that Zeta Energy could be eyeing NZOG for a merger with NZOG's joint venture Cue Energy and Zeta's affiliate, Pan Pacific Petroleum.