February 24, 2014 / 8:00 AM / 4 years ago

Essar independent committee says top shareholder's offer undervalues co

Feb 24 (Reuters) - Essar Energy Plc said that an independent committee has concluded that a possible buyout offer from the company's biggest shareholder undervalued the London-listed oil & gas firm.

The committee's decision is a shot in the arm for minority shareholders, who deemed the offer from Essar Global Fund Limited (EGFL) as 'opportunistic'.

Essar said last week that EGFL had made a possible offer of 70 pence per share for the 22 percent stake it does not already own in the company.

"The independent committee is unanimous in concluding that the current proposal from EGFL clearly undervalues the company and its long-term growth prospects. The independent committee is fully committed to safeguarding the interests of minority shareholders," Philip Aiken, chairman of the committee said in a statement on Monday.

The company said it has also appointed Greenhill & Co to act as an independent financial adviser alongside J.P. Morgan Cazenove.

Minority investors such as Henderson Global Investors and Standard Life were vocal about their displeasure with the proposed offer, which they felt undervalued the company.

India's billionaire Ruia brothers - Ravi and Shashi Ruia - are founders of the privately owned Essar Group whose interests span energy, telecoms, steel and shipping. They are also 'beneficiaries' of EGFL.

Essar Energy shares closed at 64.65 pence on Friday. The stock has fallen significantly since listing on the London Stock Exchange at 420 pence a share four years ago.

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