from India Insight:

Third time’s the charm for Mukesh Ambani

Mukesh Ambani(UPDATE: Reliance Industries has gained an overseas foothold by agreeing to pay $1.7 billion to form a joint venture with U.S.-based Atlas Energy. India's largest-listed firm will pick up a 40 percent stake in Atlas's operations in the booming Marcellus Shale)

The ruthless efficiency and smooth execution that marked Reliance Industries' development of the world’s largest refining complex in western India and its vast gas fields off the country's east coast has eluded the top-listed Indian firm during its recent attempts at overseas takeovers.

Nevertheless, Mukesh Ambani, the world’s fourth-wealthiest man and the chairman of Reliance, is known for his doggedness and is unlikely to backpedal on his overseas ambitions after being rebuffed by two overseas firms -- bankrupt petrochemicals maker LyondellBasell and oil sands firm Value Creation.

A source tells us that Ambani now has his eyes set on the booming Marcellus Shale in the eastern United States, and wants to form a joint venture with Atlas Energy to develop the independent U.S. oil and gas firm’s operations in the gas project.

A deal could bring in more than $1 billion for Atlas, which will be a much smaller price than what Reliance was willing to pay for LyondellBasell, which was valued at about $14.5 billion by the Indian firm’s final offer. Lyondell rejected it saying the price was not high enough.

We got gas!

Hot on the heels of Consol Energy’s agreement to buy Dominion Resources’ Appalachian natural gas properties for $3.48 billion in cash, a source tells us Indian energy major Reliance Industries wants to team up with Atlas Energy to develop gas operations in the same hot area of the U.S.: Marcellus Shale.

Independent oil and gas company Atlas has been seeking a partner for its operations in the energy-rich region, and Reliance has been hungry for a deal for months, having been rebuffed twice in efforts to take over foreign firms.

Atlas’s core Marcellus position consists of 266,000 acres largely in southwestern Pennsylvania. The Marcellus Shale spans parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York and could hold enough natural gas to satisfy U.S. demand for a decade, according to some geologists.