ONGC can decide on bidding for Cairn India by October

New Delhi: State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has over a month to decide if it chooses to exercise its pre-emption or right of first refusal (RoFR) to block sale of majority stake in Cairn India to Vedanta Resources, reports PTI.

Vedanta is paying $8.48 billion to buy Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy's 40% to 51% stake in Cairn India, which has 10 oil assets in the country including the giant Rajasthan oilfield.

"ONGC can make a counter-offer or exercise its self- claimed pre-emption right in certain properties of Cairn India before the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) called by Cairn Energy Plc in early October to ratify the sale to Vedanta," a source associated with the development said.

While Vedanta's open offer to minority shareholders of Cairn India for acquisition of a further 20% shares puts 7th September as the cut off date for any rival offer, ONGC can block the deal before EGM of Cairn Energy Plc approves the sale.

The state-owned oil exploration and production (E&P) firm has between 22.5% and 40% interest in Cairn India's three producing assets — Rajasthan block, Ravva oil and gas field and CB/OS-2 in Cambay basin.

ONGC is also a partner in five of the seven exploration blocks Cairn India holds including the gas discovery block of KG-DWN-98/2 that sits next to Reliance Industries' prolific KG-D6 in Krishna Godavari basin.

Cairn India holds 100% in the remaining two blocks - MB-DWN-2009/1 in Mahanadi basin and KG-OSN-2009/3 in shallow waters of KG basin.

"ONGC has analysed the production sharing contracts for all the Cairn India properties. While none of the three producing assets provide for its prior consent in case of sale by Cairn India, the exploration blocks which were awarded in New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) rounds provide for prior consent in case of change of control," the source said.

However, the Joint Operating Agreements (JOA) for each of the property gives partners the pre-emption or RoFR in case anyone of them was to exit.

"ONGC is using the clause in the JOA to state that it has pre-emption rights," he said, adding that this can be disputed as the RoFR is only in case Cairn India exits from a property which is not the case in the Vedanta deal.

Cairn India will continue to exist as an independent company and operate the fields and only its corporate ownership is changing.

The source said Cairn Energy has called the EGM in early October and should ONGC decide to exercise RoFR or make a rival bid, it has to approach the UK-based company's management before the shareholders meeting and then go to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for blocking of Vedanta open offer which opens on 11th October.


FT's Singapore Mercantile Exchange starts operations

Exchange paves way for Singapore to be recognised as Asia’s cutting-edge commodities and derivatives trading hub.

Singapore Mercantile Exchange (SMX), promoted by Financial Technologies has started its operations with the ringing of the opening bell by Ong Chong Tee, deputy managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
SMX is the first pan-Asian multi-product commodity and currency derivatives exchange that offers a platform for investors wanting to trade in multi-product commodities and currency derivatives.

Jignesh Shah, vice-chairman of SMX and chairman and group chief executive, Financial Technologies Group, said, “We have come a long way in redefining Asia's commodity and derivatives landscape.  SMX is well poised to leverage off the demand for commodities in Asia. We have had the support of market participants, policy makers and  regulators, who believe that Asia will witness the next wave of growth for global and derivatives trading in the coming years. It is about time Asia showcases its true potential to the rest of the world.” 
SMX operates as an exchange regulated and licensed by the MAS. It offers multi-currency and multi-asset clearing, trading, and pricing for contracts with guaranteed settlement and delivery. The contracts are developed to meet both generic and specific hedging requirements over Asian trading hours. The SMX product range, together with the agility and accessibility of its systems, and strategic location  in Singapore - a reputable financial centre - will enable the Exchange to be a sophisticated one-stop risk management channel for global liquidity to plug into Asian trade flows.

The four SMX futures contracts launched from the first day of trading on its platform include two leading crude oil benchmarks  –  Euro-denominated Brent Crude and West Texas Intermediate (WTI), a currency pair – Euro-US Dollar Currency Futures Contract and the first Gold futures contract in Singapore to be settled via physical delivery. Further products will be rolled-out in market segments such as Energy, Agriculture, Metals (precious and base), Indices, and Currencies.


A grinding halt

US auto sales in August were probably the slowest for the month in 28 years.

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