* Engages BofA Merrill as financial adviser
* Near-term programs in U.S, Indonesia on
* Receives expressions of interest from third parties
* Shares up 21 percent (Adds details, analyst comment; updates share movement)
BANGALORE, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Independent energy company Harvest Natural Resources Inc (HNR.N) said it was exploring strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of the company, and had received preliminary expressions of interest from third parties.
The Venezuela-focused company's shares, having risen about 25 percent in the last six months, climbed another 21 percent Monday on the New York Stock Exchange to hit $9.58 -- their highest since October 2008.
A resurgence of strength in financing options and robust war chests have pushed global mergers and acquisitions by 21 percent so far this year. Energy and power led all sectors with $349 billion of deals, up 65 percent from the same period a year ago. [ID:nN22232960]
"In spite of measureable growth across our asset base, the stock is currently trading at levels which preceded both our successful contract conversion in Venezuela and more recent operational successes in the U.S.," Chief Executive James Edmiston said in a statement.
Harvest Natural said, in March, tests indicated that one of its wells in the western U.S. state of Utah was likely a commercial oil discovery. [ID:nSGE62T0II]
Pritchard Capital analysts said Harvest Natural was likely to see significant interest from third parties given its growth and resource potential in Venezuela, Indonesia and the rocky mountain region of the United States.
The Houston-based company, which had a market value of $266.4 million based on its Friday close, had cash and equivalents of about $32 million and as much long-term debt as of June 30.
Harvest Natural, which retained BofA Merrill Lynch as its financial adviser, said there was no assurance of it pursuing any particular transaction and it will continue with its near-term exploration and development programs in the United States and Indonesia. (Reporting by Krishna N. Das in Bangalore; Editing by Aradhana Aravindan)