Freeport eyeing McMoRan Exploration and another energy firm - FT

Wed Dec 5, 2012 12:18am EST

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Dec 5 (Reuters) - Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc is looking to buy McMoRan Exploration Co and another larger oil and gas company in a bid to move back to its roots as an energy producer, the Financial Times said.

Besides the relatively smaller McMoRan Exploration deal, Freeport is expected to buy an oil and gas company that has assets in the Gulf of Mexico, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter. It did not provide the total deal value.

The larger target had close ties with Freeport executives and could be worth about $10 billion, including debt, the paper said. ()

The Financial Times did not name the larger target but cited Plains Exploration and Production as having links with Freeport.

Plains owns a 31.5 per cent stake in McMoRan Exploration while Plains Chief Executive James Flores sits on the board of McMoRan Exploration.

Also, Plains Exploration had recently bought oil and gas fields in the Gulf of Mexico from BP Plc.

Freeport spokesman Eric Kinneberg declined to comment on the report when contacted by Reuters. Plains Exploration and Production, and McMoRan Exploration could not be reached for comment.

Freeport, the world's largest publicly traded copper company, was once a diversified group with oil and gas operations, before selling those assets to focus on mining.

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