(Reuters) – Santos Ltd said on Friday that U.S.-based suitor Harbour Energy has made a $10.36 billion binding offer for the company, pitched at the same price as an indicative proposal last month.

A sign for Santos Ltd, Australia’s No. 2 independent gas producer, is displayed on the front of the company’s office building in the rural township of Gunnedah, located in north-western New South Wales in Australia, March 9, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray

The bid, which would be the biggest takeover of an Australian oil and gas producer if successful, values the gas producer at $4.98 per share and follows four unsolicited approaches from Harbour.

Santos said its independent directors would consider the revised proposal and advised shareholders to take no action at this time.

The latest offer includes a U.S. dollar offer of cash consideration for shareholders other than China’s ENN Ecological Holdings and Hony Capital, which together own 15.1 percent of the company.

ENN and Hony have been offered the opportunity to roll over their existing Santos shares into a Harbour investment vehicle and subscribe for new shares, Santos said.

The initial Harbour offer was valued at about A$6.50, but oil prices have risen about 17 percent since then, leading some analysts to say Harbour would need to raise its offer to A$7.00 a share to succeed.

The bid represents a premium of about 5 percent to Santos’ last close, based on the current Australian dollar exchange rate.

Santos opened its books to Harbour in April after the private equity-backed firm returned with its fourth proposed offer since August.

Reporting by Ambar Warrick and Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin



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