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Afren Plc Plummets As Takeover Talks Called Off

Shares in troubled oil explorer Afren (LSE: AFR) got off to a good start Friday morning, as the rise in oil prices to over $60 for the first time this year gave the whole sector a boost.

But the optimism was brought to a crashing halt in the afternoon, when the firm announced that takeover talks with SEPLAT Petroleum had officially been called off, and the share price crashed to 5p for a 30% overall fall on the day. Investors in Afren have now lost a painful 95% over the past 12 months — the company’s shares traded at around 150p a year ago.

SEPLAT, of Nigeria, had launched a preliminary approach for the severely-indebted Afren in December, though no conclusion had been reached by the original deadline of 31 January.

That was pushed back to 13 February, but today Afren said that it “has not received any proposal from Seplat that it believes is capable of being implemented on terms satisfactory to all relevant stakeholders in the company“.

What does the future now hold for Afren?

The company told us today that it is in “discussions with its existing stakeholders and new third party investors regarding recapitalising the company“, but the chances of going bust have just taken a step up.

And the value of the company is increasingly likely to be seen solely as the value of its assets in Africa and in Kurdistan. So a further recovery in oil prices will help, but possibly not a lot.

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Alan Oscroft has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Afren. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.