Looking for the Next Oil Takeover


LONDON -- Nautical Petroleum has received a cash offer of 450 pence per share from a subsidiary of Cairn Energy (ISE: CNE.L) , which has been recommended by Nautical's Board.

This seems like great news for many private shareholders who have ridden the Nautical wave all the way up from 44 pence three years ago when flagged up here at The Fool. It's almost exactly a 10-bagger, and a better than 50% premium on Tuesday's closing price.

But when you consider that Nautical's share price reached the giddy heights of 547 pence in February of last year, it's understandable why not all investors are happy.

Nevertheless, the recent market woes and fall in the price of oil present a different picture today. And if I were fortunate enough to still be holding the shares, I'd be content to take the money and run, given the market backdrop, and I'd be looking around the sector to try to spot a few bargains with the proceeds. But a counter-bid is still a possibility.

Where next?
This begs the question of "Where next?" in the sector, specifically in the North Sea heavy-oil business. There's an excellent debate going on right now on this very subject on the Fool's Oil and Gas Companies discussion board.

The big pull for Cairn seems to be the Catcher license and the prospects of further reserves, which could be good news for Premier Oil, which bought another Foolish favourite, Encore Oil, at the end of last year.

Meanwhile, Sterling Resources is popular with many Fools, particularly due to its interest in the Cladhan North Sea prospect. Xcite Energy, whose Bentley field is one of the largest undeveloped fields in the North Sea, is also a potential target.

Shares in my own favorite, Serica Energy, continue to languish at 24.6 pence, but I remain hopeful that a larger predator may see value in the ring-fenced tax losses, cash, and assets which include licenses in the North Sea.

Looking further afield, Lansdowne Oil & Gas has already been flagged up by my Foolish colleague Roland Head, though he felt that an investment in SeaEnergy might be the way to go, as it is cash-rich and owns 24% of Lansdowne.

And elsewhere, Northern Petroleum, Petroceltic International, Aurelian Oil & Gas, and Bowleven have all been suggested as potentially tasty sprats for bigger fish. Place your bets, please!

Let me finish by adding that higher-risk shares such as those oil companies mentioned above can provide superb returns -- if things work out! If the likes of Bowleven and SeaEnergy interest you, then I feel you'd also like this special report: "Ten Steps To Making A Million In The Market." The report is free and for ambitious investors only!

Further investment opportunities:

At the time thisarticle was published David owns shares in Serica Energy and SeaEnergy. He doesn't own shares in any of the other companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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