Chevron bid for Atlas Energy meets RIL roadblock

Reliance Industries Ltd might challenge Chevron Corp's bid for Atlas Energy Inc, according to a letter disclosed by the US natural gas producer in a filing with US regulators.

Reliance has hired financial and legal advisors to discuss concerns about the proposed $3.2-billion acquisition of Atlas by oil giant Chevron. It requested a meeting with the Atlas board of directors to talk about its concerns about the decision process to select Chevron as the most attractive buyer for the company.

"We believe Reliance, as Atlas Energy's joint venture partner and a company with substantial financial resources, would have been the most natural and obvious potential transaction partner for Atlas Energy," the Reliance letter said.

The Indian energy major, controlled by Mukesh Ambani, the world's fourth-richest man with a $29-billion fortune according to Forbes magazine, said it had hired Perella Weinberg Partners and Kirkland & Ellis to evaluate its options.

Last April, Reliance agreed to pay Atlas $1.7 billion to form a joint venture and own 40 per cent of Atlas's Marcellus Shale operations in the eastern United States. In November, Chevron then announced plans to buy Atlas for $3.2 billion.

Reliance said in the letter, filed by Atlas with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, that it would like to evaluate options including whether it could be able to "create incremental value" for Atlas.