Goldman Sees Woodside Deal As Doubtful

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Woodside Petroleum, Australia's second-largest oil and gas producer, saw its shares jump on Friday on renewed speculation that the company is once again a takeover target as Royal Dutch Shell, Europe's largest oil company, moves to unwind its 24% stake in Woodside, but Goldman Sachs doubts a deal to acquire Woodside is in the works.

Woodside has frequently been mentioned as a takeover target, most recently as a possible target for BHP Billiton (BHP), the world's largest mining company. Brokers recently spotted a $9 billion trade in the forex market that prompted speculation that Woodside may be in play, but Goldman doubts the trade is tied to BHP moving on Woodside.

''Who in their right mind would buy the currency before they have launched a bid given the huge time lag that usually exists between a bid and final completion?,'' Goldman said, according to Dow Jones. Shell (RDS-A) was thought to be a potential suitor for Woodside before announcing it would divest its investment in the company.

Deutsche Bank said on Friday that the most likely outcome of Shell's sale of its Woodside investment is to a ''strategic investor,'' Bloomberg News reported.