TotalEnergies is considering a bid for private-equity backed gas and oil producer Neptune Energy, according to reports over the weekend.

The French company is among the suitors that have held early-stage talks with Neptune, which could be valued at over $5billion (£4billion), according to Bloomberg.

Neither company has commented on the claims, which are also being reported by Reuters today.

In November, the news agency reported that Italy-based Eni was in preliminary talks to buy Neptune for around $5billion to $6billion.

Neptune, which was founded by the former head of Centrica Sam Laidlaw, has operations in Norway, Britain, Indonesia, Algeria, the Netherlands, among other geographies.

The company is owned by China Investment Corporation (CIC), the Carlyle Group and CVC Capital Partners.

Last year, Neptune was working on being "IPO ready" but the then financial markets conditions had made it difficult to launch one, Neptune CEO Pete Jones had said.

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