Imperial Energy investors accept bid

Click to follow

India's Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has taken control of Imperial Energy for £1.3bn, despite fears it had been attempting to walk away from the deal.

The deadline for the state-controlled group's £12.50-per-share offer closed at 1pm yesterday. It is understood that the shareholder acceptances "comfortably exceeded" the 90 per cent minimum level for the takeover to go ahead.

Shares in Eastern Europe-focused Imperial soared more than 16 per cent yesterday, and reports emerged from India shortly before the UK market closed that 96 per cent of shareholders had accepted. Neither company was available for comment yesterday.

The deal is ONGC's largest overseas acquisition, surpassing the $1.7bn it paid for a stake in Exxon Mobil's Sakhalin-I field, and it plans to delist Imperial from the London Stock Exchange in the next three weeks.

Imperial's fears intensified this month that ONGC would slash its offer should the minimum acceptance not be reached by yesterday's deadline.

The Leeds-based group, along with its banking advisers, Merrill Lynch and Royal Bank of Scotland's brokerage, Hoare Govett, have been urging investors to accept the bid in the run-up to the deadline.

The offer became less attractive as the price of oil plunged, but the Indian group was bound to complete the deal under Takeover Panel's rules, if more than 90 per cent of investors accepted.