Central Petroleum Rejects $57M Macquarie Bid, Invites Higher Offer


MELBOURNE, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Australian oil and gas minnow Central Petroleum on Monday rebuffed a takeover offer from its main lender, Macquarie Group, that valued the company at A$76 million ($57 million) but left the door open to a higher offer.

Shares in Central rocketed as much as 48 percent to A$0.20, well above the A$0.175 a share that Macquarie offered, after Central said it would open its books for Macquarie to review in the hope the bank would return with a better bid.

"The board of directors of the company has determined that the proposal is not in the best interests of shareholders," Central said in a statement to the Australian stock exchange.

It said it would give the bank, which already owns 2.3 percent of Central's shares, access to its books "to provide Macquarie every opportunity to reconsider its proposal".

Macquarie was not immediately available for comment.

Central Petroleum produces gas from conventional fields onshore in the Northern Territory, and sees itself as well-positioned to meet a shortfall of gas in the eastern Australian market, or to supply liquefied natural gas to plants that chill the gas for exports.

($1 = 1.3284 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)


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