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Bidders chase Magnier oil firm


John Magnier of Coolmore Stud

John Magnier of Coolmore Stud

John Magnier of Coolmore Stud

Coolmore stud tycoon John Magnier could finally hit pay dirt as the €330m-valued Salamander Energy faces rival takeover bids.

Magnier is linked to Switzerland-based firm Floriline SA, which owns a near 3pc stake in Salamander Energy, an Asia-focused oil and gas company.

Last week, the FTSE 250 listed group revealed that it had received a conditional proposal from Ophir Energy and also an approach led by Cepsa, a Madrid-based oil group controlled by Abu Dhabi-based investment outfit IPIC. Salamander explores for oil and gas in the seas of Thailand, with its main asset the Bualuang oilfield. Shares in Salamander jumped nearly 20pc, valuing the Magnier stake at almost €12m. The bidders have until November 24 to make a formal offer for the company.

Last May, Salamander admitted that it had received "preliminary expressions of interest" in a buyout. Shares spiked, briefly valuing the company at around €450m. However, when bidders failed to be smoked out, shares tumbled back sharply.

Floriline SA is understood to have invested in Salamander before it floated in London back in 2006. It sold down part of its stake last year, netting about €7.5m.

Magnier is one of Ireland's wealthiest businessmen, having made a fortune through "industrialising" bloodstock and horse breeding at the innovative Coolmore Stud.

He is a canny stock market punter, having landed a number of serious investment coups in recent years.

Along with close friend JP McManus, Magnier made huge profits when flipping a stake in Manchester United to the Glazer family in 2005. He also owned a shareholding in FTSE-listed Scottish sausage skin-maker Devro.

Magnier and McManus have built up an 22pc stake in the €2bn-valued Mitchell & Butler, one of Britain's biggest-listed pub groups. That stake is worth over €440m. Their investment vehicle Elpida first bought into Mitchell & Butler in 2007 before drastically upping their stake in 2008 as the share price tumbled.

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