Amerada Hess Corp. will buy Triton Energy Limited for about $2.6 billion in cash, the companies said yesterday.
Amerada Hess, based in New York, will pay $45 a share for Triton, of Dallas, and assume $500 million in Triton's debt. That price represented a premium of 50 percent over Triton's Monday closing stock price. The deal has the support of the buyout firm Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Inc., which owns 38 percent of Triton.
Shares of Triton soared $14.53, or 48.6 percent, to close at $44.43 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange. Amerada Hess fell $2.01, or 2.5 percent, to $77.35.
Though it is best known for its Hess gasoline stations on the East Coast and its popular toy trucks, Amerada Hess has spent the last year trying with little success to shift the balance of its business outside the United States and its focus to exploration and production.
The mergers of Exxon and Mobil and of Chevron and Texaco made smaller companies eager to consolidate, and the Bush administration's promotion of the idea that there is a production-related energy crisis has made investors enamored of exploration.
"The acquisition of Triton strengthens our exploration and production business, gives us access to long-life international reserves, substantially increases our production growth and provides significant exploration potential," John Hess, chairman of Amerada Hess, said in a statement.
The deal will add to Amerada Hess' earnings next year and will increase the company's oil production to 535,000 barrels a day from 425,000 now, Hess said. Production will surpass 600,000 barrels a day in 2003, he said.
In November, Amerada Hess offered to pay $3.5 billion in cash and stock for Lasmo PLC, a British exploration and production concern.
It was outbid by $500 million two months later by Eni SpA, Italy's largest oil and gas company. For the moment, Amerada Hess settled for the LLOG Exploration Co., with properties in the Gulf of Mexico and in South Louisiana, which it agreed in February to buy for $750 million.
Triton has properties in western Africa, South America and Southeast Asia, and proved oil reserves of 293.5 million, the companies said.