Japan’s Mitsui made a proposal to buyout Australian gas producer AWE for US$481, coming in ahead of two other bidders looking for a stake in an offshore gas field.
Mitsui’s unsolicited, non-binding and conditional offer of A$0.95 per share in cash, or about A$594 million, marks the first full takeover bid by the Japanese trading giant for an Australian company and would make it the operator of a gas field for the first time.
Its bid is above a cash and shares offer (A$0.83) from Australian miner Mineral Resources Ltd already recommended by AWE, as well as above the A$0.73 a share offer last week from state-owned China Energy Reserve and Chemicals Group (CERCG).
AWE said it will evaluate the Mitsui proposal and give its recommendation to shareholders. Mineral Resources will have three days to decide its next move after AWE issues its response.
All three bidders have said they see strong potential in the Waitsia gas prospect in Western Australia, operated and 50 percent-owned by AWE.
Mitsui’s proposal is subject to AWE terminating its agreement with Mineral Resources by the end of Feb. 2 as well as unanimous recommendation from AWE’s directors for accepting Mitsui’s takeover bid in the absence of a better offer.
Mitsui has worked closely with AWE on other gas projects in Australia and New Zealand and is also a stakeholder in major liquefied natural gas projects, as well as coal and iron ore mines.