Monday, October 31, 2005

If it smells fishy and it looks fishy... might be a scam.

There was a filing today by a Chinese company registered in New Zealand, but headquartered in Beijing, to purchase Exxon Mobile (XOM) for approximately $450 Billion US.

The BBC has a story on it, here. Thanks Genya for passing it along!

There are a bunch of fishy things, but lets start at the beginning. Don't worry, we don't have to go too far back. That's what's fishy. Here they are, from beginning until now:

  1. The Chinese Compnay, King Win Laurel, filed papers to become a recognized corporate entity on October 21st. In New Zealand.
  2. If it's the company I think it is, it's value is at about $1 per share. Today's volume topped out at 17,000 shares. Talk about a heavy hitter.
  3. Exxon Mobile-yes, the one that announced almost $10 billion in profits in a 3 month period--has a market cap. of about $350 billion. For the math un-inclined, that's $100 billion LESS than KWL is offering. Put it another way: the Chinese company that didn't exist 2 weeks ago is willing to pay Exxon about 30% more than Exxon itself thinks it's worth.
  4. King Win Laurel offered to incentivize the deal for Exxon shareholders, if the oil sale price exceeds $80 per barrel in the calendar year after the sale.
So how does a rinky-dink operation that filed papers exactly 10 days ago get the capital to offer a buyout? The speculation (I hesitate to elevate it to the level of rumor) is that there is Chinese government backing behind the offer. I don't think so. That wouldn't ever get through the SEC or Congress.

My guess, based on the language in the filing is that it's a joke by someone with too much spare time, and insufficient appreciation for how serious Wall Street types take this sort of thing.

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