Maurel Fails to Get Takeover Offers, Oil Explorer’s CEO Says

Etablissements Maurel & Prom SA Chief Executive Officer Jean-Francois Henin, the largest shareholder of the French oil explorer, said he’s failed to attract a reasonable offer for the company, which has also tried to list in London.

“We are talking to people every day,” he said at a news conference in Paris today. “Since 2006 we have been approached regularly. Outside one or two ridiculous offers, we have never had a firm offer that would allow us to go to shareholders and advise them to sell.”

Maurel mandated Citigroup Inc. and BNP Paribas about a year ago to search for partners for exploration permits held by the company, Henin said. Maurel announced yesterday the sale of 50 percent of its stakes in five Colombian permits to Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp.

“We tried three times over the past two years to list the company outside France through partnerships with small companies, a sort of reverse takeover,” he said. The failed attempts would have been for listings in London, he said.

Maurel, which reported a widening of full-year loss yesterday on higher exploration costs, has struggled to raise oil production since selling Congolese fields to Eni SpA in 2007. At the time, Henin said output would be halved after the disposal and returned to pre-sale levels within two years, helped by new wells in Gabon. The explorer is about half-way to the target and has announced a series of dry wells.

“I would never accept an offer for the shares held by Pacifico that isn’t made to all shareholders,” said Henin, who owns 24 percent of the company through Pacifico SA.

Higher Reserves

Maurel reported a 2010 loss of 139 million euros ($197 million) compared with a loss of 51 million euros the previous year and a 74 percent increase in certified P1 and P2 reserves to 288 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Output from onshore Gabon and Nigeria fields accounted for about three quarters of total revenue of 346 million euros and was 14,618 barrels a day from Gabon and 3,570 barrels a day from Nigerian fields, the company said in a statement yesterday.

“Weak results as expected, but strong outlook,” Bertrand Hodee, an analyst at Kepler Research who has a “buy” rating on the stock, wrote in a note to clients today. The company has a “strong production outlook and lower cash burn on exploration” in coming years, he said.

The company is changing strategy to spend less on exploration and more on developing reserves and raising output, Henin said today.

“We have accumulated sufficient reserves and quasi- reserves that we can lower our level of exploration because we don’t need it,” he said, adding that Maurel may acquire more reserves onshore Nigeria.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tara Patel in Paris at tpatel2@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net.

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.