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Actualité des M&A

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1 Actualité des M&A le Sam 2 Mai - 22:52


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Voici l'actualité sur les M&A "Mergers and aquisitions"

Sterling signe un waver pour refinancer sa dette et assurer sa survie

Source: OilBarrel du 22/04
There was some light relief for shareholders in Sterling Energy on Tuesday morning when the cash-strapped E&P announced it has signed a bank waiver on loan repayments. The waiver will run until mid-August, buying the AIM firm some time to find a longer term solution to its current funding crisis

Info sur Sterling

Article de Oilbarrel du 27/04/2009

April 27, 2009

Oil Independents Facing Up To Increased M&A Activity Amid Funding Pressures

By Martin Clark

On y parle des M&A recentes par profil de compagnie (entre gros, integration verticale pour sécuriser l'approvionnement) mais aussi de MAU qui se met en ordre de bataille pour acheter une proie.

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article protégé


Although we are yet to see any major activity on the scale of the late 1990s, when the largest oil majors paired up in the face of crushingly low oil prices, there is plenty of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity afoot.
In the small cap sector, this includes AIM-quoted Bowleven plc, the subject of a failed recent takeover bid by Thailand’s state energy company PTT. The Edinburgh-based explorer certainly needs additional funding to pursue its Africa-focused projects but the proposed takeover faltered after Thai bosses refused to sanction the offer.

This is all miles away from a decade ago, however, when per barrel prices were languishing not far off US$10, striking fear into the hearts of all those in the industry. This was the era that spawned the true giants of today’s oil and gas sector including what is still the world’s biggest corporation ExxonMobil.

The slump in oil prices since last summer has clearly triggered similar anxieties. Per barrel prices have fallen from a July 2008 peak of US$147 to now settle at around US$50.

This may not be as low as before, but this time it comes with the world facing up to a chronic recession that has eaten away both demand and confidence. The effects of the credit crunch continue to bite causing great uncertainty across all industry sectors.

It may be that this level of uncertainty has, in part, kept the super majors away from the M&A table, with true asset valuations difficult to gauge at a time of such great flux.

This time around much of the activity has been at the smaller end of the market though the proposed US$15 billion-plus tie-up between two of Canada’s largest energy groups, Suncor and Petro-Canada, suggests that the scope for deals may be widening.

In the mid-tier segment, OMV sold its 21 per cent stake stake in Hungarian oil group MOL to Russia’s Surgutneftegaz recently though the new investor is not expected to launch a full and formal takeover bid.

The big boys are also alert to opportunity. French champion Total has similarly entered the fray, launching a C$830 million bid for Canadian oil sands developer UTS Energy Corporation, though this is expected to be dismissed as too low.

For the most part, a reduction in the valuation of smaller and mid-size energy companies does not appear to have triggered a spending spree among those with some cash to burn.

China’s state-supported energy companies may have been considered among the more likely to seek out new targets, though the head of CNOOC this month ruled out further overseas acquisitions during the current financial crisis.

CNOOC’s chairman Fu Chengyu cited growing protectionism and a lack of understanding about Chinese companies and their overseas ambitions as key factors behind the decision. The company plans to grow its international business through partnerships and joint ventures, injecting financing only, rather than seeking outright acquisitions, he said.

In 2005, CNOOC was snubbed when US politicians blocked its proposed US$18.5 billion high-profile takeover of Unocal, ultimately losing out in the tussle to Chevron.

The CNOOC strategy recognises the increasing significance in the current climate of financing and liquidity to ongoing energy sector development. This has become an issue facing the industry all over but felt no more acutely than among the smaller independents.

Securing financing at a time when banks are less willing to lend has become a top priority for small independents since the oil crash began last summer.

This area can be fraught with difficulties, however, as Regal Petroleum discovered recently, ending talks with Macquarie Bank over a US$100 million loan due to what CEO David Greer described as “heavy obligations and onerous conditions”. The company, which is focused on Ukraine, still expects to sign a financing agreement in the coming weeks.

The more vulnerable companies are those most dependent on borrowing to pursue their development goals. Indeed, the renewal of revolving financing may prove a more stern test in the coming year, analysts reckon.

Speculative-grade independent E&P firms with heavily borrowed revolvers face liquidity and, in some cases, survival risk if banks reduce their borrowing bases below, or simply to, current bank borrowings, says Moody’s Investors Service.

Even if not stressed now, the loss of borrowing capacity can take its toll on production replacement as the down-cycle progresses, according to Moody’s VP-senior credit officer Andrew Oram.

Some companies may be more vulnerable than others, he says. For example, this is the first time in which E&Ps built largely around extremely capital intensive unconventional gas shale and tight gas sands resource plays will be tested by a serious down-cycle.

“These plays require heavy drilling and development spending to offset the very steep production declines in the first six months of each new well,” says Oram. “It also takes large numbers of new wells to average out the widely varying results per well in such plays. On the plus side, several issuers have alternative sources of cash funding of a large scale not seen in prior down-cycles.”

These are issues that most energy companies must contend with given the tightness in the financial markets.

For those with the means there are clearly opportunities, though all deals are being closely scrutinised given the difficulty in assessing true asset value and the fear of overpaying.

Centrica last month purchased a 22 per cent stake in North Sea explorer Venture Production, as part of moves to generate more energy output internally, though this strategy - similar to other European utilities - was in place long before the credit crunch took hold.

Northern Petroleum also bought out cash-strapped ATI Oil, as reported on April 16, in a deal worth £11.3 million. This transaction gives Northern much greater control over its Italian licence interests.

France’s Maurel & Prom is another on the prowl, with its chairman, Jean-Francois Henin, recently stating that his organisation may seek to take advantage of any distressed companies. He told investors in late March that the prevailing market had now made conditions “much more advantageous” for such acquisitions.

The pace of activity may well pick-up unless oil prices and confidence rebound with the same degree of vigour in which they collapsed nearly a year ago. Although these are uncertain times, the prospect of such a double rebound seems unlikely right now.

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