China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) on Friday showed keen interest in immediate talks with Unocal over a proposed US$18.5 billion all-cash bid, after rival Chevron allowed Unocal to join the discussions.
"We are prepared to start immediately," said Fu Chengyu, president of the nation's third-largest oil and gas producer, responding to Unocal's announcement that it had received a waiver from Chevron allowing Unocal to engage in discussions with CNOOC over the all-cash bid.
El Segundo, California-based Unocal, will start talks with CNOOC soon, said Barry Lane, spokesman of the ninth-largest oil and gas producer in the United States, on Friday.
Unocal, which accepted Chevron's US$16.4 billion cash-plus-stock offer in April, said in the announcement that it has been enabled by Chevron's permission to engage in discussions with CNOOC "at any time" until the date of the Unocal stockholder vote on the proposed merger with Chevron.
"The date of the Unocal stockholder meeting has not yet been set," Unocal's announcement said.
Although Unocal's recommendation to shareholders in favour of the US$16.4 billion offer from Chevron remains in effect, according to the announcement, CNOOC showed great confidence in winning the bidding war triggered by the Chinese State-owned oil firm's audacious US$18.5 billion all-cash offer on Wednesday.
"We believe this offer brings superior value to Unocal shareholders," said Fu in the statement on Friday, re-emphasizing that the oil and gas produced by Unocal in the United States and the Gulf of Mexico will continue to supply the US market after the transaction, and the jobs of all Unocal's employees in the United States will be retained, in contrast to Chevron's plan to axe workers.
In addition, CNOOC is "fully prepared" in a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) of the transaction, said Fu.
CNOOC's bid to take over a US oil giant has spurred concerns from some US government officials over its national security, as some members of CFIUS - which includes representatives of US government departments - has showed expectorations from CNOOC to ask voluntarily for a US interagency government review of its bid.
CNOOC's Fu earlier on Wednesday said he doesn't believe the deal (of acquiring Unocal) will hurt the national security of the United States.
"We have proactively made assurances to Unocal to address concerns relating to energy security and ownership of Unocal assets in the United States," Fu said on Friday.
"We are prepared to enter into talks with the CFIUS committee to discuss these issues as soon as the committee is ready to do so," he added.
Source: China Daily