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Israeli firm seeks higher price from Adnoc and BP

REUTERS/Satish Kumar
A general view of Adnoc headquarters in Abu Dhabi on December 10, 2019

A panel reviewing a $2 billion offer by Abu Dhabi’s national oil company and BP to acquire a 50 percent stake in the Israeli gas producer NewMed has recommended raising the asking price by over 10 percent, casting doubt over the deal, sources said.

The proposed acquisition by Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc) and BP was seen as a sign of the strengthening economic links between Israel and the UAE since the two countries agreed to normalise ties in 2020.

The independent panel of three members was set up by NewMed after the proposed deal was announced in March to examine the terms of the $2 billion offer and seek competing bids.

The panel, however, did not receive any other offers, according to several sources.

The panel recommended increasing the asking price by 10 percent to 12 percent, or roughly up to $250 million, in response to the rally in oil and gas prices as well as the recent depreciation of the Israeli currency.

The committee will now engage with the parties to seek an agreement on the new value for the deal, but there is no guarantee BP and Adnoc would agree to increase their offer, the sources said.

“There is joint frustration at how the process has been handled and there is real jeopardy of people walking away,” a source close to the talks, who asked not to be named, said.

Once the panel concludes the negotiations, it will submit its recommendation to the NewMed board.

BP, Adnoc and NewMed declined to comment.

NewMed’s management remains committed to the deal and still believes it will bring value to shareholders, one source said.

Under the non-binding offer, BP and Adnoc would buy 45 percent of NewMed’s free floating shares and an additional 5 percent owned by Israeli conglomerate Delek Group, which will hold the remaining 50 percent, taking the company private.

NewMed’s shares have risen by more than 50 percent since the March 28 announcement to around 11.50 NIS, but they still remain below the offer price of 12.05 shekels ($3.15).