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Thursday, 21 December, 2000, 14:36 GMT
Eni swoops on Lasmo
oil rig
Lasmo's oil production makes it an attractive buy
Eni, the world's fifth largest oil company, has launched a bid for UK independent oil and gas firm, Lasmo.

The bid significantly outstrips an offer that Lasmo received from US firm Amerada Hess last month.

The boards of Eni and Lasmo have agreed a 200 pence per share cash offer, valuing the firm at 2.7bn ($3.95bn), around 12% higher than the bid from Amerada Hess.

The move is part of an ongoing wave of consolidation in the oil industry that has created a new breed of 'super-majors' including BP, TotalFinaElf and ExxonMobil.

That has left Eni in danger of falling behind its key rivals, and it has become the centre of talk and speculation about mergers and acquisitions.

Lasmo's popularity is due to its significant body of potential oil reserves in North Africa and the North Sea.

Rising oil output
oil platform
Eni has ambitious targets to increase its oil output

"The acquisition of Lasmo allows us to speed up our production targets. We will beat our 1.5m barrels per day target outlined in the strategic plan for 2003," says Vittorio Mincato, Chief Executive of Eni.

Eni would also win a foothold in oil hotspot Venezuela and the Asian gas market, if the bid is approved by Lasmo's shareholders.

And the deal could generate synergies of about 80m euros (49.7m) a year, according to Eni's estimates.

Amerada Hess says that it will not revise its original bid..

Lasmo is one of the UK's last remaining independent oil and gas companies, its former rival British Borneo being bought up by Eni in March.

State-owned Eni has substantial gas interests in Europe and oil exploration rights in North Africa.

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