Natural gas exploration company Tom Brown ( TBI) agreed to be acquired by Canada's Encana ( ECA) for $48 a share cash.

Thinly traded Tom Brown shares closed Wednesday at $38.77, just shy of their 52-week high of $39.55. The transaction's total value comes out to $2.7 billion, including assumed debt.

The acquisition will be carried out initially through a tender offer to begin within the next 10 business days, to be followed by a cash merger in which untendered shares will be converted into the right to receive $48 in cash. Tom Brown's board unanimously approved the deal, which is subject to various closing conditions.

"Our board of directors, management team and I, believe this offer reflects a fair value for the company's proven and potential resource base," said Tom Brown CEO Jim Lightner.

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