Sona Petroleum gets US$140m loan to purchase 40% stake in Salamander

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KUALA LUMPUR: Sona Petroleum Bhd announced yesterday that it had obtained a US$140 million (RM459 million) loan facility from BNP Paribas and RHB Bank (L) Ltd to part-finance the purchase of its first qualifying asset, a 40% stake in Thailand-based marine oil and gas firm Salamander Energy (Bualuang) Ltd (SEBL) for US$281.2 million.

“The financing is conditional upon, inter-alia, the approvals of the Securities Commission (SC) and the shareholders of Sona for the proposed transaction being obtained,” said the oil and gas special-purpose acquisition vehicle in an announcement to Bursa Malaysia yesterday.

The SC has yet to approve Sona’s proposal, submitted at end-August, to purchase SEBL. SEBL is owned by UK-listed Salamander Energy plc (Salamander), which is being eyed by Jynwel Capital, an international private equity investment and advisory firm of which Jho Low is its chief executive officer. The firm has made headlines in the past week for its intention to purchase Reebok from Adidas.

According to Sona’s announcement, Salamander has notified it that the group has been approached by a consortium led by Campania Espanola de Petroleos (Cespa) and Jynwel Capital. Salamander also confirmed that it has been approached by Ophir Energy plc with a conditional proposal on a potential offer to purchase Salamander, and is now seeking to clarify the terms of the conditional proposal.

“The company (Salamander) is currently in discussions with both Ophir and the Cespa consortium in relation to their respective proposals. However, there is no certainty that any offer will be forthcoming or as to the terms of any such offer,” Salamander said in a note accompanying Sona’s announcement.

Salamander said it has not received details of Cespa’s proposal or confirmation that an offer will be forthcoming.

It noted that while offers to acquire Salamander are not yet concrete, its board had assured investors that the completion of the sale of SEBL “remains on track before the end of 2014” and is “in the best interests of shareholders”.

 

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 28, 2014