Gulf Keystone Rises as Oil Directors Set Rewards for Sale

March 22 (Bloomberg) -- Gulf Keystone Petroleum Ltd., an oil explorer active in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, rose in London after saying some employees would get shares valued at about 26 million pounds ($41 million) if the producer is sold.

The company climbed 4.7 percent to 263.5 pence, valuing the company at 2.3 billion pounds, after saying today it would issue 10 million new shares to be awarded to staff in the event of a sale of at least half of the company or its assets. Chief Executive Officer Todd Kozel would get 300,000 shares in a so-called exit event, it said in a statement.

Gulf Keystone discovered as much as 10 billion barrels of oil in the Shaikan field in northern Iraq, a region that has drawn increasing interest from producers. Exxon Mobil Corp. last year became the biggest company to join the hunt for oil and gas in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, home to about 40 percent of the country’s estimated 115 billion barrels of reserves.

Gulf Keystone “have a multibillion barrel field which will require a big investment,” said Dougie Youngson, an analyst at Seymour Pierce Ltd. in London. “That means there will likely be some sort of transaction. This year’s all about shoring up the asset base, a sale is more likely next year.”

The company also said as many as 10 million shares would be awarded over the next three years in the form of bonuses.

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