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Premier Oil CEO Pushes Asset Sales for Higher Returns

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July 1 (Bloomberg) -- Premier Oil Plc’s newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Tony Durrant is accelerating asset sales to focus on projects with higher returns.

“We are continuing to deliver on our plans to dispose of $300 million of non-core assets this year, focusing our capital and people on the higher return projects in our portfolio,” Durrant said today in a statement announcing the sale of unit Premier Oil Sumatra North.

Durrant, who was promoted to the top job on June 25 after being the chief financial officer for about nine years, has agreed to sell stakes in fields in the U.K. North Sea and Indonesia for about $170 million. Premier also agreed to sell a stake in a license off Norway for about $17.5 million, helping reduce its need for investment capital.

The asset sale progress is “providing confidence that despite a period of leadership change, delivery of key targets are on track,” Lucas Herrmann, a London-based analyst at Deutsche Bank AG, wrote today in an e-mailed report.

Premier, based in London, has delivered about two-thirds of its planned asset sale target, set since the departure of the previous CEO Simon Lockett on Feb. 4. Its shares have risen 25 percent since Feb. 3, outperforming a 13 percent gain in the FTSE All-Share Oil & Gas Producers Index.

Premier rose 1.7 percent to 339.70 pence in London.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eduard Gismatullin in London at egismatullin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net Tony Barrett, John Viljoen