African explorer Tullow Oil dismissed takeover talk after it unveiled higher revenue but lower profits amid a 200m dollar
increase in exploration write-offs.
Chief Executive Aidan Heavey said the company was "not for sale" after disappointing exploration news sparked speculation that it could be a target for Norway's Statoil or Chinese oil companies at about 1,400p per share.
Heavey told journalists on a conference call: "The fact that Tullow has so many world-class assets in key areas means we're always going to be the subject of takeover rumours.
"Our exploration programme has been incredibly successful and continues to be the most successful in the sector.
"That's why people keep talking about taking us over, but we're not for sale."
Heavey said the company would focus on areas where it has had most success such as the rift basins of East Africa and off the coast of Norway.
He said Tullow was in discussions about "rephasing" some of its activity going forward as part of managing its global exploration spend, to ensure it focused on the most capital-efficient operations.
But he said the rest of the company's exploration portfolio, apart from those assets already being disposed of, was not up for sale.
"The rest is still strong and will have its day," he said.
Tullow added that it was plugging and abandoning its first well in Mauritania and more assessment would be needed before follow-up drilling.
However, Exploration Director Angus McCoss described it as a technical breakthrough. He said: "We have opened up a new oil play in a deeper horizon that the industry has not properly explored."
Tullow, which has interests in more than 150 exploration and production licences across 25 countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and South America, said revenue in the year to December 31st rose 13% to $2.65bn, against a forecast by Numis Securities of $2.6bn.
Production rose 6% to 84,200 barrels of oil equivalent per day on a 2% fall in price per barrel to $105.7.
But a fall in profit on disposals of $670m and a $200m increase in exploration write-offs reduced pre-tax profit by 72% to $313m and post-tax profit by 68% to $216m.
In September, the group and partners OMV and Statoil made a breakthrough find in the Arctic off the coast of Norway.
But it has also faced disappointment after a well came up dry in Ethiopia last December, following other downbeat drilling updates in French Guiana and elsewhere.
Heavey highlighted good progress at projects in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda, which would significantly increase cash flow in up to five years' time.
He said: "An ambitious exploration and appraisal programme is planned for 2014 which is targeting opportunities in our core plays in Africa and the Atlantic margins. We are well placed for an exciting year of growth."
Shares in Tullow fell 22.5p or 2.66% to 823p at 11:25 in London.