Spanish oil giant Repsol said its board would meet on Monday to discuss a takeover bid for its struggling Canadian rival Talisman, which has sparked interest from several other firms.
In a statement Repsol said its board would discuss "among other questions, the possible purchase of the entire capital of Canadian firm Talisman Energy Inc."
Spanish business daily Expansion reported Friday that Repsol was prepared to offer six Canadian dollars per each Talisman share, which values the group, one of Canada's largest independent oil and gas producers, at over six billion Canadian dollars (four billion euros).
Contacted by AFP, a Repsol spokesman would not confirm the report, saying only that the company was studying investment opportunities, "of which Talisman Energy is part".
Repsol is flush with cash after Argentina earlier this year paid it $6.3 billion in compensation for seizing control of its YPF, the Spanish firm's subsidiary in the Latin American country.
The company said in November it had around $10 billion to make acquisitions.
Repsol has said it wants to build up its presence in countries that are members of the Organisation for economic Co-operation and Development, a club of mostly rich nations, rather then exposing itself to greater political risks typical in emerging economies.
Talisman said in July that it had been approached by Repsol but the Spanish firm reportedly pulled out because the price for the company was too high.
Earlier on Monday Talisman said in a statement its was "engaged in discussions with Repsol regarding a potential corporate transaction."
"Talisman has also been approached by a number of other parties regarding various transactions. There can be no assurances that these discussions will result in a transaction or on what terms," it added.
Ratings agency in October cut Talisman's credit rating to triple-B-minus, one notch above junk, citing concerns about the company's limited ability to generate enough cash flow to offset high operating costs.
Talisman loaded up on debt as it aggressively pursued overseas expansion. It is now struggling to reduce its debt load amid a slump in oil and gas prices.
Repsol shares closed down 2.97 percent at 15.695 euros. The Ibex-35 index of most-traded Spanish shares closed down 2.38 percent.
Talisman shares soared over 18 percent on the New York stock exchange on the news that Repsol was mulling a bid for the company.