A little-known Chinese group has emerged as the mystery party behind a £485m takeover bid for San Leon Energy, a London-listed oil explorer.
Talks about the bid from Geron Energy are ongoing, prompting a statement on Monday from the board of San Leon which confirmed that it had “received an approach from a possible offeror, which may or may not lead to an offer being made for San Leon”.
The interest from the Chinese bidders came months after San Leon raised money through a share placing at 45p, slightly below the level at which the shares were trading on Wednesday.
Investors in San Leon would welcome a bid at the indicative level of 80p, given that it is at a substantial premium to a share price which has already risen by 45% this year.
San Leon’s operations are focused on oil and gas development in Africa and Europe, including a near-10% stake in a major oil-producing asset in Nigeria.
Earlier this year, the company announced the appointment of Mutiu Sunmonu, the former head of Shell Nigeria, as its new non-executive chairman.
San Leon said the completion of the Nigerian deal will result in it returning 50% of free cashflow to investors over the next five years, with sources previously suggesting this distribution policy could involve as much as $260m (£200m) being handed over in the form of dividends and a share buyback.
Headquartered in Ireland, it also has operations in Albania, France, Morocco, Poland and Spain.
A San Leon spokesman declined to comment on Wednesday.