Anadarko to resume deal talks with Occidental, says bid could be 'superior' to Chevron's offer

Key Points
  • Anadarko Petroleum announces it will restart negotiations to be bought by fellow driller Occidental.
  • Anadarko agreed to sell its business to Chevron earlier this month.
  • The board of directors at Anadarko unanimously agrees that Occidental's bid could reasonably lead to a superior proposal.
A contractor works in the control room at an Anadarko Petroleum Corp. oil rig site in Fort Lupton, Colorado.
Jamie Schwaberow | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Anadarko Petroleum said Monday it will restart negotiations with Occidental even though it struck a $33 billion deal earlier this month with Chevron to sell its business.

The announcement comes after its board unanimously determined that Occidental Petroleum's rival bid, launched last week, could reasonably lead to a proposal that is superior to Chevron's previously announced deal to buy Anadarko.

Occidental has offered $76 a share for Anadarko, while Chevron has put $65 a share on the table.

The board's determination allows Anadarko and its advisers to resume talks with Occidental under the terms of the Chevron deal. The agreement with Chevron remains in effect, and Anadarko's board reaffirmed its support for the deal for the time being. Anadarko would have to pay Chevron a $1 billion breakup fee if it decides to sell to Occidental.

Occidental CEO discusses the decision to make a formal bid for Anadarko
Occidental CEO discusses the decision to make a formal bid to buy Anadarko

The announcement is the latest development in a rare bidding war in the oil and gas sector. At the heart of the battle are the crown jewels of Anadarko's portfolio: a significant footprint in the Permian Basin, the top U.S. shale oil field.

Both Chevron and Occidental are seeking to expand their presence in the Permian, which stretches across western Texas and southeastern New Mexico. Occidental CEO Vicki Hollub told CNBC that Anadarko's Permian assets represent about 75 percent of the deal value.

Analysts say Chevron may have to sweeten its offer for Anadarko. During a conference call on Friday, company executives declined to offer details on the price they'd be willing to pay. However, Chevron CEO Michael Wirth said the oil giant would bow out if the cost of buying Anadarko got too high and no longer created value for shareholders.

Occidental revealed last week that it had put forward three offers to buy Anadarko since late March. On Monday, Anadarko said the latest proposal "reflects significant improvement" in value, terms and conditions, and closing certainty compared to previous offers.

Chevron CEO: We knew nothing about Occidental's bid for Anadarko
Chevron CEO: We knew nothing about Occidental's bid for Anadarko

Anadarko stressed that its decision to restart negotiations with Occidental does not assure the talks will produce a deal that is superior to the agreement with Chevron.

Hollub says Occidental is the best acquirer for Anadarko because her company is a top performer in the Permian and can squeeze the best results out of the company's wells. Chevron believes it can bring industrial scale to that shale acreage and says Anadarko's other assets — including in the Gulf of Mexico and Mozambique — better align with its portfolio.

"We believe our signed agreement with Anadarko provides the best value and the most certainty to Anadarko's shareholders," Chevron said in a statement on Monday.

Shares of Chevron and Anadarko were up slightly Monday while Occidental's fell 2%.