Ophir Drops to 10-Month Low as Och-Ziff, Mittal Sell Shares

Ophir Energy Plc, a U.K. oil and gas explorer in Africa, slumped to a 10-month low in London after several institutional shareholders sold stock.

Ophir dropped 8.6 percent to 475 pence, the lowest price since March 23, valuing the company at 1.9 billion pounds ($3 billion). It fell the most among companies on the FTSE All-Share Index on volume that was 10 times the three-month daily average.

Investors sold 36 million shares, about 9 percent of issued equity, according to a statement from Credit Suisse Group AG, the bookrunner for sellers Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC and Mittal Investments Sarl. The stock was priced at 475 pence, the lower end of guidance, in a so-called accelerated bookbuild, raising 171 million pounds, the bank said.

The investors are offloading shares after BG Group Plc, Ophir’s partner in Tanzania, said Feb. 5 that it expects to slow development of a liquefied natural gas project in the East African nation because of a lack of infrastructure and government capacity to handle large investments.

Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC is the $31.8 billion hedge fund run by Daniel Och, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. trader. Mittal Investments is a fund run by billionaire Lakshmi Mittal.

Ophir is down 26 percent since touching a record 643.50 pence on Sept. 14, after it indicated in October it was short of cash for project needs this year. The explorer is seeking partners to share venture costs in West and East Africa.

Separately, the London-based company said today its Mzia-2 well off Tanzania confirmed the extension of a discovery drilled earlier by its Mzia-1 well. Ophir and BG found a 200-meter (650-foot) vertical gas column at the site in the country’s Block 1.