* PetroChina, Exxon Mobil, Shell seen as possible suitors
* India's state-run ONGC, India Oil could team up on bid
* First round bids due March 14
By Denny Thomas and Sumeet Chatterjee
HONG KONG/MUMBAI, March 5 Anadarko Petroleum
Corp and an Indian billionaire have launched the auction
of a 20 percent stake in a Mozambique gas field that could fetch
$4.5 billion, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The Rovuma offshore field is a hot property after recent
discoveries boosted Mozambique's gas reserves to around 150
trillion cubic feet, enough to supply world number one importer
Japan for 35 years. The east African country is expected to
eventually compete with Australia and Qatar as a major provider
of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia.
Last year Thai state oil company PTT Exploration and
Production PCL trumped Royal Dutch Shell Plc
in a hotly contested battle for Cove Energy Plc and its 8.5
percent of the field. The $1.9 billion price tag for Cove
implies the stake now on offer could fetch about $4.5 billion.
Indian tycoon Venugopal Dhoot, who controls consumer
electronics to mobile-phone services conglomerate Videocon
Group, is leading the process and has hired Standard Chartered
and UBS to handle the sale, the sources
Both banks declined to comment.
First round bids are due on March 14 after an information
memorandum on the sale was sent to potential bidders in early
February, one of the sources said.
U.S. oil and gas explorer Anadarko is the operator of
Mozambique's offshore Area 1 with a 36.5 percent interest, while
Japan's Mitsui & Co Ltd is the second-biggest holder in
the block with a 20 percent stake.
India's state-owned refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd
and a unit of Dhoot's Videocon Industries
own 10 percent each, while PTT has an 8.5 percent interest and
Mozambique's state-owned ENH 15 percent.
Shares in Videocon Industries, which has a market value of
$1.2 billion, rose as much as 4.6 percent on Tuesday, outpacing
a near 1 percent gain for the Mumbai market index.
"The move to monetise its holding in the Mozambique gas
block to reduce debt is a positive trigger for the company and
the stock," said Neeraj Dewan, director at Quantum Securities.
"That's a good asset and it should get a good valuation."
PetroChina, Shell and Exxon Mobil Corp are among
suitors expected to submit indicative proposals, sources with
direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
India's state-owned Oil & Natural Gas Corp and Oil
India are considering a joint bid for the 20 percent
stake, two separate sources said. The companies would hire an
adviser once they decide on bidding, one of the sources said.
Shell and Exxon declined to comment. PetroChina officials
were not available for comment. ONGC Videsh head D. K. Sarraf
declined comment, while Oil India Director Finance T. K. Ananth
Kumar said all options were open for the company.
Videocon is seeking about $2.5-$3 billion for its 10 pct
stake, though sources warned buyers are unlikely to pay a huge
premium over what PTT paid.
"PTT paid what was a good price, but to get to a $3 billion
price tag is difficult," a person familiar with the process
A spokesman for Anadarko did not immediately respond to a
request for comment on Monday, while Dhoot declined to comment.
Dhoot, who ranks 38th in Forbes' India rich list with a net
worth of $1.5 billion, paid $75 million for the Rovuma 1 stake
in 2008. His company is expected to use some of the sale
proceeds to pare debt of more than $5.5 billion.
Anadarko CEO Al Walker last month told an earnings
conference call that the company was looking to sell a 10
percent interest in the block, taking the firm's stake to 26.5
Together with ENI SpA, which owns an adjacent field
and is cooperating on building gas liquefaction facilities,
Anadarko hopes to ship out first LNG in 2018.