Hunt Extends Period for Berkley Offer

Hunt Oil Co.'s unsolicited bid to purchase all of the issued and outstanding shares of Berkley Petroleum Corp. for C$10 per share was received as expected by Berkley shareholders this week, with the Dallas-based company extending an olive branch by saying it would lengthen the time period for its offer to be reviewed.

Calgary-based Berkley said its special committee of independent directors would review the offer, and said it has retained Peters & Co. Ltd. and Scotia Capital Inc. to review and advise it.

Hunt subsidiary Hunt Oil Canadian Acquisition II Corp. began an hostile takeover of Berkley last week (see Daily GPI, Jan. 2; Jan 3; and Dec. 29, 2000), an offer called "opportunistic and inadequate" by Berkley, which in turn adopted a shareholder rights protection plan.

Under Berkley's protection plan, the Hunt offer did not qualify as a "permitted bid" because it did not meet certain requirements that protect the interests of shareholders including, among other things, being open for acceptance up to 60 days. Berkley's board said the 60-day period is required to allow it to evaluate the offer and pursue alternatives. In response, Hunt, which already owns about 10% of Berkley, said it would extend its offer --- but not by four months.

"We recognize that Berkley has work to do in connection with our offer," said Craig Glick, senior vice president of Hunt Oil. "Therefore, our offer will remain open substantially longer than the customary 21-day period. This additional time ensures Berkley will have sufficient time to explore all alternatives by Feb. 6, and that the Shareholder Rights Plan adopted by Berkley in response to our offer will have served its purpose and outlived its usefulness prior to that time."

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