DealZone

Ghana, Ghana, Gone to Exxon

Sources tell us that oil behemoth Exxon Mobil won the bidding in an auction for Kosmos Energy’s stake in the Jubilee field in Ghana, one of the biggest oil discoveries in recent years. Analysts have said the stake could be worth up to $5 billion.

Private equity-backed Kosmos put its interests in the multibillion-barrel field, which it co-owns with Irish oil explorer Tullow Oil and Houston-based Anadarko Petroleum, on the market earlier this year.

Huge interest in the stake was reported. India’s ONGC, China’s CNOOC and even Ghana’s own National Petroleum Corp all expressed interest at some point over the summer. Other corporate interests thought to be bidding included BP, Shell Oil and ENI SpA.

Megan Davies reported in July, when Kosmos extended a bid deadline, that a deal could move swiftly from signing to closing, as the Ghanaian government was included in the extended auction.

Temasek’s strong stomach

temasek2.jpgSingapore wealth fund Temasek may have gotten hold of some bad stuff this year when it bought a 9 percent stake in Merrill Lynch. The stock has lost more than half its value since the purchase was announced in late December. But far from swearing off noxious bank assets, the flush Asian fund says it wants more. And why shouldn’t it? It just doubled its full-year profit by selling assets in local power and its national telecoms and airlines companies, as well by cutting a stake in Bank of China, so the toxicity of Merrill’s share price is not making it sick. Financials grew by two percentage points to 40 percent of its portfolio in the year through March and are likely to grow further, with Temasek saying it expects contagion from the credit crisis to spread. That should keep prices down for a while. Temasek said it will not cap its investments in the sector, but it was mum on whether it was thinking of taking on any Lehman exposure.

India’s largest oil producer ONGC has agreed a 1.4 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) takeover of Russia-focused oil explorer Imperial Energy Corp as it works to secure energy to fuel India’s booming economy. Imperial said ONGC’s overseas arm, ONGC Videsh, would pay 1,250 pence in cash for each of its shares in a deal that could double state-owned ONGC’s proved and probable reserves. This is less than the 1,290 pence approach Imperial said last month it was discussing with an unnamed bidder, which sources close to the matter identified as ONGC. Investors aren’t wholly convinced though, with the shares trading down more than 1 percent this morning after rising sharply in recent weeks on hopes for a bidding war.

Infosys Technologies agreed to buy British consultancy Axon Group for 407 million pounds ($753 million) as India’s second-biggest software services exporter looks for growth beyond an uncertain U.S. market. The cash deal values Axon at six pounds per share, a 19.4 percent premium over Friday’s close of 5.025 pounds and 33 percent over the average price of the last six months, Infosys CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan said. The stock has risen to 611, and Infosys shares have taken a hit as expectations rise another bid will emerge. Altium Securities said in a note it believed there was room for a counterbid closer to 700 pence.