Monday 9 December 2019

Petroneft shares gain after activist investor Natlata says may back deal with Oil India

Petroneft's biggest shareholder has said he is not interested in launching a takeover offer for the company
Petroneft's biggest shareholder has said he is not interested in launching a takeover offer for the company

Sarah McCabe

PETRONEFT’S share price jumped 14pc this morning after activist shareholder Natlata indicated it may row in behind the company’s deal with new partner Oil India.

Petroneft announced on Friday that it had agreed an $85m (€61.5m) binding "farm-out" deal for License 61 in the Tomsk Oblast area of Russia. The deal with Oil India includes $35m in cash upfront that would enable the company to repay its debts to creditors Macquarie and Arawak and have cash to finance developing the Licence 61, which it owns and operates. The oil and gas explorer will execute a binding legal agreement to farm out the licences within the week, in exchange for a 50pc stake.

Private investment company Natlata, Petroneft’s single biggest shareholder, had previously expressed opposition to a farm-out deal.

But this morning Natlata said that “if the deal is as attractive as suggested, Natlata would consider supporting it” – while adding that “with such complex deals, the devil is in the details, of which the board has characteristically provided very few”.

“Unfortunately the announcement only provided clarity with respect to $35m, while the rest of the money is or may be subject to the current management actually delivering on its promises – which, Natlata notes, should sound alarm bells for shareholders, if past performance is anything to go by” it said in a statement, setting out a series of questions about the deal that it wants answers before it will consider giving its support.

Davy Stockbrokers, meanwhile, said this morning that the deal “re-starts the investment case for Petroneft.”

“It will now be completely debt-free and will participate in a properly capitalised work programme to develop Licence 61 in the Tomsk Oblast of western Siberia” said analyst Job Langbroek. “Following the deal, we estimate an 11.3p per share core valuation, especially as the group now has the wherewithal to achieve it.”

Shares rose to 6.95 pence each in early trading today.

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