The battle for Ireland's Aran Energy heated up Monday as Los Angeles-based Atlantic Richfield Co. raised its hostile offer for the company just as Norway's Statoil announced it was considering making a bid.
Arco increased its original offer, which valued the Irish company at $253 million, to $287 million.
"This final offer provides full value for all of Aran's assets," Bill Wade, chairman of Arco Irish Holdings, said in a statement.
Aran rejected the revised offer, saying it was still a substantial discount to the value put on Aran's net assets by independent petroleum consultants.
Arco's announcement came just as Norwegian state oil group Den Norske Stats Oljeselskap, or Statoil, confirmed it was in talks with Aran regarding the possibility of making a full cash offer.
Aran said Friday that it had received an approach from another party that could lead to an alternative offer. It did not name the company, although industry sources identified it as Statoil.
"A team of technical staff has just completed its preliminary evaluation of Aran's assets in Aran's data room during the weekend with the full cooperation of Aran's staff," Statoil's president of international exploration and production, Rolf Magne Larsen, said in a statement.
"We are encouraged by our findings, and we are giving the utmost consideration to determining our next action," he said.
Statoil said it will make a further announcement regarding its intentions in the near future.
Arco, whose offer closes Oct. 24, urged Aran shareholders to accept the increased offer without delay and to vote against a proposed joint venture with Statoil.
The joint venture relates to the development of Aran's Connemara oil field off the Irish west coast; it is subject to approval at an extraordinary meeting of Aran shareholders Oct. 23.
"Arco is opposed to this proposal and believes it transfers value from Aran shareholders to Statoil," Arco said.