UK Panel Imposes July 13 Deadline for Venture Takeover

Venture Production plc

Venture welcomes today's announcement by the Takeover Panel Executive that it has imposed a deadline of 5.00pm on July 13, 2009, by which Centrica plc ("Centrica") must, unless the Takeover Panel Executive consents otherwise, either announce a firm intention to make an offer for Venture under Rule 2.5 of the Takeover Code (the "Code") or announce that it does not intend to make an offer for Venture.

If Centrica announces that it does not intend to make an offer for Venture, Centrica and any person acting in concert with it will, except with the consent of the Takeover Panel Executive, be bound by the restrictions contained in Rule 2.8 of the Code for six months from the date of such announcement.

Prior to Venture's request that the Takeover Panel Executive impose a "put up or shut up" deadline, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Venture met with their respective counterparts at Centrica at which no firm offer was forthcoming. By July 13, Centrica will have had nearly four months to put forward a firm offer and Venture's Board believe it is in the interests of the Company and its shareholders that this period of protracted uncertainty is brought to an end.

Since the start of the Offer Period on 18 March, Venture has made substantial progress in delivering upon its stated strategy including:

  • Average production of approximately 53,400 boepd for the first five months of 2009, up 17% over the same period last year;
  • Successful appraisal of the Cygnus gas field;
  • Successful exploration well on Carna;
  • Tie-in of the second Chestnut production well; and
  • Successful Kew appraisal well

As a result, at the end of March 2009, Venture reported a 12% increase to year end total proven and probable reserves to approximately 240 million barrels of oil equivalent ("MMboe"). This increase in Venture's reserves is supported by an independent assessment by DeGolyer and McNaughton.

Alongside the excellent operational progress made by Venture, the external market environment has improved materially:

  • Commodity prices have increased significantly during this period; and
  • In the recent Budget the UK Government has introduced new tax allowances which will be beneficial for our portfolio of undeveloped oil and gas fields.

This operational performance and the improved external market backdrop reaffirms the Board's belief that the current strategy and proven track record of management will result in the continued delivery of growth. The Company is focused on maintaining its position as one of the largest independent producers of oil and gas in the North Sea, by acquiring, developing and bringing into production discovered but undeveloped or 'stranded' oil and gas fields. The Board of Venture therefore believes the Company has an excellent future as an independent company and therefore welcomes the Panel's ruling.

This announcement has not been made with the consent of Centrica and there can be no certainty that an offer will be made.

Venture is being advised by Rothschild, Lambert Energy, UBS and Oriel Securities in relation to this matter.