Petroceltic takeover moves forward

17 May 2016

New investor Worldview may not pay shareholders

The court-appointed examiners for Irish oil and gas company Petroceltic, the UK’s Grant Thornton, has selected Swiss-based Worldview as the successful investor.

The move will allow Worldview to take control of the group, subject to the examinership, following a lengthy battle with Petroceltic’s board.

Since a 3£p a share offer to shareholders has lapsed and Worldview controls the majority of Petroceltic’s debt, current equity investors could receive nothing in the takeover.

The offer, made by a subsidiary of Worldview named Sunny Hill, valued the company at just £6.4m ($9.2m). This is despite Petroceltic’s 38.25 per cent stake in the 355 million cubic-foot-a-day (cf/d) Ain Tsila gas field in Algeria.

Worldview is yet to clarify its investment strategy for the Ain Tsila development. In February 2015, it advocated spending just $500m on developing Ain Tsila. This is around a third of Petroceltic’s planned $1.5bn investment, for which it was unable to raise finance.

Drilling of the first well, by China’s Sinopec, at Ain Tsila began in February and is progressing well. An engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) tender for the $2bn field development was expected to be imminent.

Worldview filed a petition to appoint an examiner at the Irish High Court in early March, without prior notice to Petroceltic. It then bought up 69.4 per cent of Petroceltic’s $233m of debt at cents on the dollar after Petroceltic was unable to meet payment obligations

Algerian state-owned Sonatrach holds a 43.375 per cent interest and Italy’s Enel holds an 18.375 per cent interest in the Ain Tsila development.

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