A London-listed oil company with a market value of just £18m is close to finalising a $200m (£153m) fundraising and announcing the recruitment of the former boss of Shell’s Nigerian operations.
Sky News has learnt that AIM-quoted San Leon Energy is likely to announce as early as Friday that it has secured the new funding to finance the acquisition of a near-10% stake in a major oil-producing asset in Nigeria.
The move will pave the way for a resumption in trading in San Leon’s shares, which have been suspended since January.
Sources said the company would also announce the appointment of Mutiu Sunmonu, the former head of Shell Nigeria, as its new non-executive chairman.
San Leon is expected to raise the money through a placing of shares at a price of 45p, well below the targeted price of 105p signalled by the company in May.
The deal to acquire a 9.72% interest in the OML 18 oilfield in the Southern Nigerian Delta, which was previously operated by Royal Dutch Shell, will constitute a reverse takeover under AIM’s listing rules and will require shareholder approval.
OML 18 produces 50,000 barrels per day, with a plan to reach 112,000 barrels by 2020.
Sources said that the recipient of the money from San Leon would take part of the proceeds in the London-listed company’s shares, representing a “significant vote of confidence in its future”.
San Leon has said that completion of the Nigerian deal will result in it returning 50% of free cashflow to investors over the following five years, with sources suggesting this distribution policy could involve as much as $260m (£200m) being handed over in the form of dividends and a share buyback.
Like many small oil companies buffeted by the headwinds of uncertain production and a sharply declining oil price, San Leon has endured a torrid period, announcing a €214m (£183m) loss for 2015.
Headquartered in Ireland, it also has operations in Albania, France, Morocco, Poland and Spain.
A San Leon spokesman declined to comment on Wednesday.
By Mark Kleinman
Source: Sky News
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