Maurel CEO Says Company Had ‘Contacts’ for Possible Sale, Merger

Etablissements Maurel & Prom Chief Executive Officer Jean-Francois Henin said that while he has had contacts about a possible takeover or merger of the French oil and gas explorer, getting a deal has proved elusive.

“We are handicapped by our listing in France,” he said today at a press conference in Paris. “We would have already merged with someone if we were in London. We have contacts regularly. I don’t know where anything will lead.”

The Paris stock market, where France’s biggest explorer, Total SA, trades, lacks depth of listings in the oil business, Henin said. The CEO, who owns 24 percent of Maurel, has long said he’s searching for a buyer or partner to help the company reach a “critical size.”

He declined to comment on “crazy rumors” about oil companies ready to buy Maurel, whose shares have advanced 19 percent in three months.

“We don’t have a vital need for a merger” or acquirer, Henin said. An offer to take the company private fell through as no agreement could be reached on valuation, while a merger with a company listed elsewhere would make sense, he said.

The explorer today posted net income of 58 million euros ($74 million) in 2012 from 165 million euros a year earlier. Sales rose 26 percent to 472 million euros. Asset sales totaled 135 million euros in 2011.

Gabon Production

Maurel had average production of 15,688 barrels of oil equivalent a day in 2012, with output in Gabon surpassing 22,000. The connection of new wells may push production from Gabon above 27,500 barrels a day by the end of the year after last year’s results were affected by the collapse of a platform.

Maurel spun off its Nigerian operations in 2011 to concentrate on projects in Gabon, Tanzania and Colombia. Plans for this year also include Peru, Mozambique and Namibia, according to today’s statement.

Maurel, which first struck oil in the Republic of Congo in 2001, has divested businesses ranging from fish farming to shipping to focus on energy. It drilled more than 100 exploration wells in the past decade, with a success rate of 46 percent, according to its website.