QEP Resources Inc. has attracted takeover interest from private equity giant Blackstone Group LP, as well as drillers Whiting Petroleum Corp. and Callon Petroleum Co., according to people familiar with the matter.
The Denver-based natural gas and oil explorer and producer said in February that it would explore a sale after activist investor Elliott Management Corp. made a $2 billion proposal to acquire the company. Elliott remains in the bidding for the company, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.
The process could draw to a close as soon as next month, the people said. A final decision hasn’t been made and QEP’s plans could still change, they said.
Representatives for Blackstone and Elliott declined to comment. Representatives for QEP, Denver-based Whiting and Houston-based Callon didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.
QEP’s shares, which fell 41% last year, jumped 40% on Jan. 7 when Elliott announced its $8.75-a-share bid, representing a 44% premium at the time. The shares rose as much as 8.9% Monday in New York trading and closed up 5.3% $7.90, giving the company a market value of about $1.88 billion.
Whiting closed down 3.2% to $22.74, while Callon fell 6.9% to $7.62.
Elliott, which is run by billionaire Paul Singer, owns about 5% of QEP. It said in January that it backed QEP’s plan to become focused on the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico and to sell other assets. While Elliott credited the management team for making significant strides toward achieving that goal, it said at the time that the company was still “deeply undervalued.”