Antitrust Service Approves ONGC's Imperial Bid

Imperial Energy rose the most in almost 19 months in London trading after the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service approved its ?1.4 billion ($2.2 billion) takeover by India's ONGC.

Imperial Energy, a Britain-based explorer developing deposits in Siberia, jumped 21 percent to 1,068 pence.

The acquisition by India's biggest exploration company "has already been approved," said Sergei Noskovich, a spokesman for the anti-monopoly service. The body later posted statements approving the acquisition on its web site.

"This is a green light for the deal," said Artyom Konchin, an analyst at Aton UniCredit. "The only major concern now is whether the price will remain."

A slump in energy prices and falling Russian oil output have hammered shares in the country's biggest energy companies. Urals crude prices have fallen more than 41 percent since ONGC first made its offer.

Approval was granted after the Federal Subsoil Resource Use Agency ruled that Imperial's reserves were not "strategic," Noskovich said.

ONGC's cash offer of 1,250 pence per share was 61.9 percent more than Imperial Energy's stock price July 11, the day before it said it had received a bid.

"It's illogical on ONGC's part to pay at prices set three months ago when oil was so high," UBS oil analyst Dmitry Lukashov said.

ONGC said in a statement that it was seeking clarification from the anti-monopoly agency because it had not yet received full regulatory clearance to go ahead with the purchase.

Friday's ruling follows talks between Indian Oil Minister Murli Deora and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin earlier in the week.

India wants to participate in the offshore Sakhalin-3 project and form a venture with Rosneft to explore eastern Siberia, the Indian government said earlier this week. In return, India would consider partnership with Russian companies in Indian exploration.