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Nexen takeover rumours pick up steam Add to ...

Rumours of a hostile bid for Nexen from France's Total are now getting very specific.

The FT Alphaville website is reporting that Total is preparing a $19.7-billion bid. The website names the European banks that are willing to lend on the deal: Societe Generale, HSBC, BNP Parisbas, RBS and Credit Agricole.

At the risk of contradicting a fellow reporter with what looks like excellent sources, FT Alphaville may have the price-per-share of the Total bid wrong. Energy traders say that $19.7-billion figure is the enterprise value of the transaction, and includes Nexen's existing debt.

The price per share of a bid would likely be in the $34.80-per-share range, or $28 (U.S.)  FT Alphaville is reporting the bid could be $38 (Canadian), which seems a tad rich. Nexen is changing hands at $24.50, up 11 per cent, in active trading Tuesday.

Nexen's board has long maintained it has no interest in selling. The company is in the midst of a leadership change - CFO Marvin Romanow is taking the reins from Charlie Fisher - and the stock is well below recent highs, so any offer will have to be hostile.

Nexen takeover rumours have been around for months, and picked up steam last week when Total raised capital with a large debenture issue. The Calgary-based company has a variety of holdings, including oil sands, and some of those properties could be sold to pay down acquisition debt.

France's Total would be bidding for a major domestic energy company at a time when the federal governement is all put frozen by a leadership crisis.

FT Alphaville is reporting Total secured a financing package of €7.5-billion from those five banks, and has already paid a commitment fee for the debt at a cost of €130-million. The website says a formal offer could be made as early as this week. The London-based website is also reporting that Total will consider selling its 13 per cent holding in drug company Sanofi-Aventis if it had proved difficult to secure bank financing for the deal.

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