Shell and Thailand's PTT face penalty shoot-out in battle to land Cove Energy

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The Independent Online

After five months without scoring that decisive goal, the match between Shell and Thailand's PTT for the trophy that is the oil explorer Cove Energy is hurtling towards a penalty shoot-out.

With both sides failing to declare a final offer in their bidding war for the Mozambique-focused oil company, the City's deal referee, the Takeover Panel, took the rare step yesterday of saying it would blow the final whistle at 5pm on Monday.

The panel's decision gives both sides until then to revise their offers, if they want to, and declare them final. If they do not, a penalty shootout-style auction process kicks in on Tuesday morning. If they choose to participate, this would permit Shell and PTT to submit revised bids on a daily basis, although each revision would need to be a reaction to a change to the competing offer. Shell and PTT have been engaged in a long-winded bid battle for Cove Energy since February, when the FTSE 100 oil giant agreed a deal to buy the company for £1bn.

However, PTT came in with a higher offer soon after and the two parties have been raising their bids and extending their offer periods for shareholders ever since. Shell extended its £1.12bn offer for Cove Energy for a third time yesterday to 25 July after it was accepted by just 3.27 per cent of shareholders. PTT's £1.22bn offer, which has been accepted by less than 1 per cent of its investors, was due to expire yesterday.