MEG Energy Corp. said Wednesday it had rejected a C$3 billion ($2.3 billion) hostile takeover by Husky Energy Inc. and plans to launch a strategic review with an eye to finding another buyer.
The Calgary-based oil and natural gas company said its board unanimously rejected the unsolicited bid Husky made last month, arguing it significantly undervalues the company and that it expected superior offers to emerge.
“Over the last few years, there has been a substantial transformation of our business, culminating in the appointment of a top-rated CEO and the strengthening of our management team,” said Jeffrey McCaig, MEG’s chairman, in a statement.
Husky’s offer is still in the best interests of both companies’ investors, representing a 44 percent premium for MEG shareholders, participation in Husky’s dividend and a stronger balance sheet, Husky spokesman Mel Duvall said in an emailed statement.
The pursuit of MEG is happening against a backdrop of plunging Canadian crude prices. Western Canada Select has traded at a record discount to West Texas Intermediate in October as rising oil-sands production bumps up against pipeline bottlenecks and maintenance at U.S. refineries.
Husky proposed last month to pay MEG shareholders either C$11 in cash or 0.485 Husky shares, subject to pro-ration. Husky Chief Executive Officer Rob Peabody had taken his cash-and-stock proposal directly to shareholders after MEG’s board spurned an earlier offer. MEG said after reviewing the offer with its financial adviser, Bank of Montreal, it was recommending investors not tender their shares.
MEG said it planned to explore strategic options for the company that could include a sale of all or part of the company.
“MEG is now at an inflection point with a low-risk business plan and a clear line of sight to significant free cash flow generation commencing in 2019,” McCaig said.
MEG could draw interest from companies including Suncor Energy Inc., Imperial Oil Ltd. and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., according to Phil Skolnick, an analyst with Eight Capital. He also speculated that Husky may want to increase its offer price to as much as C$15 a share before the deal hurts it financially. MEG’s Christina Lake project, which produces roughly 90,000 barrels a day, is considered one of Canada’s top-tier oil-sands operations.