The national oil company of Kuwait has walked away from takeover talks with North Sea-focused oil and gas explorer Ithaca Energy, a report in the Middle East has said.
Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration, the international arm of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, could not be contacted yesterday and a spokesman for Ithaca was unable to comment.
A Kuwaiti newspaper cited high-level, unnamed sources at KPC saying the door to negotiation was now firmly closed.
Ithaca said in March that it had received unsolicited interest from several unnamed parties in a deal estimated to be worth around £540million.
It is thought the Aberdeen firm has been in discussions with the Kuwaitis for several months.
Speculation about other potential buyers has focused on oil firms such as EnQuest, Taqa and Dana Petroleum.
Ithaca has assets in the inner and outer Moray Firth plus central and southern North Sea.
The company increased its net proved and probable reserves estimates by 9% last year, to 50.25million barrels of oil equivalent (boe).
Net export production in the first quarter of 2012 was expected to be around 4,200boe per day – Ithaca has predicted this will more than double in the current quarter on the back of first oil at its Athena development.
The company suffered a £13.2million fall in pre-tax profits last year, to £23.3million, on turnover that was down by £3.8million at £81.1million. Operating profits slumped to £16.6million in the latest period, from £42.6million in 2010.
Last month, Ithaca Energy announced it had been given the go-ahead for its £630million Greater Stella development.
The project, the largest undertaken by the company to date, will see the Stella and Harrier fields in the central North Sea developed through a floating production vessel.
It is due to come on stream in the second half of next year and produce about 30,000boe per day, which is treble the firm’s estimated production for the end of 2011.