THE LONDON FINANCIAL TIMES
Ghana move for Kosmos oilfield stake
By Martin Arnold, William Wallis and Leslie Hook
Published: October 22 2010 19:08 | Last updated: October 22 2010 19:08
Ghana’s state-owned oil company has approached the private equity owners of Kosmos Energy about buying its stake in the west African country’s vast offshore Jubilee oilfield for about $4bn.
The Ghana National Petroleum Company aimed to buy the Ghanaian assets of Texas-based Kosmos using a bridging loan, which it would repay partly by selling on part of the venture to CNOOC, the Chinese state-owned oil company.
Ghana in negotiations to buy Kosmos – Oct-16
However, Kosmos and its US private equity owners – Blackstone and Warburg Pincus – have not responded to the offer from the GNPC since it made the approach almost a month ago.
The private equity groups have been considering a potential initial public offering of the Texas-based wildcatter, which could value it as high as $5bn.
By publicly listing a minority stake, the US owners hope to avoid interference from Accra, as it would not amount to a change of control.
Earlier this year, a $4bn deal to sell Kosmos to ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest oil company, collapsed because of opposition from Ghana.
The plans for a potential IPO could also be a negotiating tactic to push up the price of an expected bid for the company by the GNPC.
The IPO plan is complicated by an active corruption investigation by Ghana’s attorney-general. Kosmos denies any wrongdoing.
A person familiar with Kosmos said newswire reports that GNPC had teamed up with CNOOC to make a $5bn bid for the Texas-based company’s Ghanaian assets were “incorrect in multiple areas”.
CNOOC is more focused on buying oil assets from Tullow in Uganda and acquiring a stake in Argentina’s Bridas from BP, rather than any possible deal it has been considering in Ghana, according to a person familiar with the Chinese group.
One factor that could push the private equity owners of Kosmos to sell sooner rather than later is that they may be liable to higher taxes on any windfall they achieve from a sale once oil production starts from the Jubilee field on December 1.
Ghana officials have also been in talks in recent weeks with Norway’s Statoil about it joining the consortium to add its experience of deepwater oil production, something both the GNPC and CNOOC are lacking.
People familiar with the situation said the value of Kosmos had increased since the deal with Exxon was struck in October 2009, due to another discovery offshore Ghana and the proximity of first oil from the Jubilee field later this year.
All parties declined to comment.