Apache to Exit Australia After $2.1 Billion Sale of Assets

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Apache Corp. will exit Australia’s energy industry, selling its assets there to a group of private equity funds managed by Macquarie Capital Group Ltd. and Brookfield Asset Management Inc. for $2.1 billion.

The assets produced the equivalent of about 49,000 barrels of oil a day in March, according to a statement Wednesday. The company will retain a 49 percent stake in the fertilizer producer Yara Pilbara Holdings Pty.

“Given market conditions, selling production assets is a challenge and private equity is the logical buyer,” Brian Youngberg, an analyst at Edward Jones, said in an e-mail. He said the offer “appears to be a good price.”

The sale of Houston-based Apache’s Australian assets is part of a push to focus on the U.S. and Canada. Oil and gas production in North America has boomed in recent years as more advanced technology allows drillers to extract previously inaccessible resources.

Following the sale, about 70 percent of Apache’s production will come from North America onshore, Chief Executive Officer John J. Christmann said in the statement.

Apache also shed a liquefied natural gas project and related properties in Australia this month, and has explored a sale of its assets in the North Sea. The company also has assets in Egypt.

Buy Cycle

Youngberg said getting $5 billion total for the two sales of its Australian assets is “outstanding” because of the plunge in the price of oil.

“This is obviously a great time in the market,” Len Chersky, head of private equity for Brookfield in Australia, said by telephone. “This is part of the buy cycle. We see these assets to be great foundation assets but would obviously like to build on that.”

The buyers already have a customer lined up for the Australian gas operations. Alcoa Inc. said Wednesday it had agreed to a 12-year supply deal for its alumina refineries in Western Australia. That contract, which is conditional on the Apache sale closing, is worth $500 million.

Chersky said the new company has plans to buy more assets, though it doesn’t have any immediate acquisition targets. He also said the new company has yet to be named because Macquarie and Brookfield wanted the existing management, who will continue to run the firm, to participate in that process.

For Related News & Information: North Sea Oil Is Buyer’s Market as Apache, BG Group Want Out

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