The founding family of Texas oil and gas company Quicksilver Resources Inc. has told the board of directors it is interested in "strategic alternatives" for the company that include taking it private.
The Darden family, which controls about 30 percent of Quicksilver Resources' stock and is the largest stakeholder, sent a letter to the board dated Friday asking it to change its shareholder rights plan to allow discussions about the company's ownership.
The Fort Worth, Texas-based Quicksilver Resources responded by setting up a committee of independent directors to consider any transactions, according to a company statement.
"No decisions have been made by the transaction committee with respect to Quicksilver Resources Inc.'s response to the investor group's request," the statement said.
The announcement Monday sent Quicksilver Resources shares up 16 percent, or $2.04, to $14.65. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $10.53 to $16.59.
A company run by the Darden family, Quicksilver Energy LP, sent the letter to the board. It also said the second-largest shareholder, SPO Partners & Co., has expressed interest in "engaging in discussions with us regarding strategic alternatives for the company."
SPO owns about 15 percent of Quicksilver Resources, which went public around 1999.
The Darden family's letter said any proposal it makes would involve a "substantial premium to the current market price."
Subash Chandra, an energy analyst for Jefferies & Co. in New York, said there have been rumblings all summer that the Darden family might make try to change control of the company, possibly because SPO had increased its stake.
"Now I guess they want to make sure that one institutional investor doesn't walk away with the company, that there are competing proposals" including one from the family, Chandra said.
Quicksilver Energy is controlled by the Darden Family, which includes Quicksilver Resources President and CEO Glenn Darden and board Chairman Thomas Darden.
A message was left Monday for a Quicksilver Resources spokesman seeking comment on the letter.
Quicksilver Resources has a market capitalization of $2.51 billion, and Chandra estimated that the Darden family would have to raise $2 billion to take the company private at a 20 percent premium.
He said any transaction could take months to complete.