One of the members of the independent committee assessing a takeover offer for Irish-listed exploration firm, Dragon Oil, has joined the board of its bidder.
The move is expected to further antagonise minority shareholders upset with the latest offer for Dragon. The Dubai-based explorer – which has its shares listed in Dublin and London – is currently the subject of a takeover bid by the Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC), which already owns 54% of the company. ENOC is offering 750p per share (which values Dragon at around €5.1bn) for the 46% it doesn’t own, and needs another 23% acceptance by the end of July to be able to delist Dragon’s shares. While ENOC has stated it is confident of achieving this – and a number of investors have suggested its offer is fair – an estimated near 16% of minority shareholders, including Dublin-based Setanta Asset Management, have opposed the deal on value grounds.
Dragon has now announced that Ahmad Al Muhairbi has resigned from the four-man independent committee and joined the ENOC board. Dragon was made aware of the move on Wednesday, while Mr Al Muhairbi joined the ENOC board on July 12 and left the independent committee the next day. He will remain a non-executive director of Dragon Oil, but will not have any further part in discussions or decision-making regarding the proposed takeover.
“The news, in our view, will likely embolden the view of the minority shareholders in Dragon Oil that view the offer from ENOC as undervaluing the Dragon Oil assets,” said Gerry Hennigan of Goodbody Stockbrokers. He estimated the combined holding of those minority shareholders unhappy with the current offer from ENOC stands at 15.7%.
Meanwhile, Europa Oil & Gas has raised gross proceeds of £1m (€1.4m) from the open offer element of its latest fundraising round. Earlier this month, the London-based explorer raised £1.4m via a share placement and said it was looking to raise a maximum of a further £2m, via an open offer, to help fund its British and Irish asset portfolios.
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