US watchdog swoops on $55bn oil merger

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) yesterday obtained an asset freeze in connection with suspected fraudulent trading in Anadarko Petroleum Corp before the oil company agreed to be acquired by rival Chevron.

US District Judge Gregory Woods in Manhattan granted the freeze over accounts linked to suspicious purchases by unknown buyers of Anadarko securities between February 8 and April 1, 2019, according to a court filing. The filing did not name defendants, nor did it cite the value of the purchases in question.

The SEC declined to comment on the case, while Anadarko could not immediately be reached for comment.

Chevron announced on April 12 it would buy Anadarko for about $33bn (€29.5bn). Another oil company, Occidental Petroleum Corp, launched an unsolicited $38bn bid for Anadarko on April 24.

Defendants that receive the freeze notice must not withdraw, transfer or dispose of assets related to the allegations, the filing said.

Anadarko shares have trailed other energy companies in recent years, but they recently got a boost from the twin takeover offers.

The ‘Financial Times’ reported that Anadarko Petroleum was on course to accept the takeover offer from its US rival Occidental Petroleum, which gatecrashed the previously agreed sale to oil major Chevron. Including debt Occidental’s deal values Anadarko at $55bn. If it is accepted it would be a rare win for a hostile bid.

Reuters

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