Sona Clings on to Fading Hopes of Acquiring Thai Assets from Salamander

Malaysia's Sona Petroleum Bhd clung on to fading hopes of completing its $280 million acquisition of petroleum assets offshore Thailand from U.K.-based Salamander Energy Plc that was agreed in June, local daily New Straits Times reported Wednesday.

“We will meet up with Salamander next week to discuss the options,” Sona's Managing Director Hadian Hashim said, as quoted in the New Straits Times.

Sona's acquisition of 40 percent interest in the B8/38 concession -- holding the Bualuang oil field -- and the G4/50 concession in the Gulf of Thailand is unlikely to proceed further after Salamander's board backed a takeover offer Monday by Ophir Energy plc.

It is understood that Ophir's acquisition of Salamander is subject to the latter terminating its deal to dispose of the 40 percent stake in the two Thai offshore concessions to Sona.

Sona's top management plans to meet their counterparts from Salamander next week to save the deal for the Malaysian special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that raised some $170 million (MYR 550 million) from its initial public offering (IPO) in July 2013.

The proposed upstream asset acquisition in Thailand would have been Sona's first qualifying acquisition (QA), with the possible scuttling of the transaction expected to exert more pressure on the SPAC, which is running out of time to spend the bulk of the monies raised from the IPOs on QAs within three years of listing, or July 2016.

“This is a developing situation and we are looking at all possibilities, including conciliatory measures, such as working with Ophir,” Hashim said, adding that if the deal were to fall through, the firm had other potential assets to consider.

Of the four SPACs listed on local stock exchange Bursa Malaysia, only Hibiscus Petroleum Bhd, which was the first among them to be listed, holds upstream assets in Australia, Oman and Norway.

The other three SPACs, comprising CLIQ Energy, Reach Energy Bhd and Sona, are still searching for appropriate upstream oil and gas asset acquisitions.

Meanwhile, Sona revealed in a filing on Bursa Malaysia Tuesday that the company has received approval of the Securities Commission in Malaysia for its offshore Thailand oil and gas block acquisition.


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