PARIS The head of French oil producer Maurel et Prom (MAUP.PA) dismissed speculation that Anglo-Dutch oil group Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) had approached it about a possible takeover, sending its shares down as much as 8.5 percent on Thursday.
The stock had risen more than 20 percent on Wednesday after The Daily Mail newspaper, without citing sources, said the company had turned down a friendly approach from U.S. explorer Anadarko Petroleum (APC.N) and had drawn interest from Shell.
Maurel et Prom could receive a bid of more than 19 euros a share, the paper said.
"We haven't had any contact with Shell and we are not aware of this project," Maurel et Prom Chief Executive Jean-Francois Henin told shareholders at the company's annual general meeting.
He also told Reuters on the sidelines of the meeting that the company had not been approached by Anadarko.
"At least it (the report) has had one advantage - it has stopped the irrational decline of the stock and has put it back to a more normal valuation," said Henin, who owns a stake of nearly 24 percent in the company.
Before the Daily Mail report, shares in Maurel et Prom had slid steadily by 28 percent over a period of 3-1/2 months, more than twice the drop on the European oil and gas stock index .SXEP.
The shares were at 11.45 euros by 0652 EDT after reaching as low as 11.25 earlier in the day and a recent low of 10.16 euros on June 4.
PLANS TO DOUBLE SIZE
Meanwhile, Shell focused on a battle for Cove Energy COVE.L, which owns assets in East Africa, and on Thursday extended the deadline for shareholders to consider its $1.8 billion bid.
Henin told shareholders a share price of 12 euros was insufficient and that he had plans to double the size of the group through partnerships. He was not more specific.
"We are not satisfied," he said. "Twelve euros does not represent the value of the company that we can build."
Henin has said he was open to selling the company at the right price provided that certain conditions were met.
Maurel et Prom has regularly been subject to takeover talk, fanned by the spin-off of its Nigerian assets into Maurel & Prom Nigeria MPNG.PA in December.
State-run Oil India (OILI.NS) has said it is interested in buying a stake in Maurel's assets in Gabon, although Henin told Reuters he had not been contacted.
Maurel et Prom, which last year made a net profit of 165 million euros ($207 million) on revenue of 374 million, has assets in Colombia, Gabon, Tanzania and Mozambique.
(Editing by James Regan and Jane Baird)