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Tullow still a takeover target, says Goldman Sachs as oil declines again


Tullow Oil chief executive Aidan Heavey. Photo: John Cogill

Tullow Oil chief executive Aidan Heavey. Photo: John Cogill

Tullow Oil chief executive Aidan Heavey. Photo: John Cogill

Anglo-Irish exploration firm Tullow Oil could be a takeover target following a slump in it shares over the past two months, analysts at Goldman Sachs have predicted.

The speculation caused shares in Tullow, which have halved since May, to rise before they quickly retreated again as oil prices continued to decline.

It's at least the third time since April that Goldman Sachs has speculated that Tullow, which is headed by Aidan Heavey, could be sold to a bargain hunter.

In April, the investment bank also said that a decline in the company's shares could prompt a takeover approach. That sent Tullow's shares as much as 8pc higher.

In July, Goldman Sachs also reiterated that Tullow could be bought. That caused Tullow shares to rise almost 5pc.

Tullow focuses exploration and production on the west coast of Africa, but also has acreage in Kenya and is working in the Caribbean. It has 1.3bn barrels of proven and probable reserves. It's working on a major offshore oilfield development off Ghana, called the TEN project.

It owns almost half of the TEN project, which is expected to produce up to 80,000 barrels of oil a day when it comes on stream in 2016.

The TEN project is beside the large Jubilee oilfield that is 35pc-owned by Tullow.

Goldman Sachs has previously suggested that there is an opportunity for "balance sheet arbitrage" in relation to the TEN field and Tullow.

"We believe potential buyers will be those companies that have low financial leverage but high project costs, and that can use their balance sheets to gain access to lower-cost projects that currently sit with companies that have high financial leverage," according to an earlier report from Goldman analysts.

The price of a barrel of Brent oil - an industry standard - is now below $50 and has declined by more than 50pc in the past year.

Irish Independent