Heritage Oil Plc (LSE: HOIL), the independent upstream exploration and production company with operations in Iraqi Kurdistan, has announced that it is commencing with immediate effect, a buy back programme to spend up to $100 million to acquire its Ordinary Shares, as the Board of Directors (the "Board") considers that the current share price is trading at a significant discount to the intrinsic, underlying value of the Company.
Heritage shareholders passed a resolution at the last Annual General Meeting on 17 June 2010, allowing the Company to buy back up to 28,786,693 Ordinary Shares, representing approximately 10 per cent. of the Company's voting share capital. Heritage has been unable to commence a buy back programme until now as the Company has been in trading black-out for either operational or corporate reasons since the resolution was passed.
With the regulatory black-out having been lifted, the Board is now implementing with immediate effect, a share buy back programme of up to $100 million. Heritage announced recently that it had approximately US$600 million of cash at year end, excluding amounts reserved in connection with the tax dispute in Uganda. The Board, which collectively owns over 30% of the share capital, believes that the buy back of shares is a worthwhile investment and in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders.
The Company has a strong balance sheet with which to make the purchases whilst also progressing with current work programmes and continuing to seek further opportunities to add value. The Company is actively identifying prospects in 2011, through acquiring or processing seismic in Tanzania, Mali and Malta whilst also continuing with the appraisal of the Miran field in Kurdistan. Further wells will also be drilled on the Zapadno Chumpasskoye Field in Russia which could add a material increase to production levels.
Tony Buckingham, Chief Executive Officer, commented:
"The sale of the Ugandan Assets in 2010 has provided Heritage with a strong balance sheet and available cash. The recent share price performance following the discovery of the Miran gas field in Kurdistan neither reflects the underlying value of the assets nor our belief in the longer term prospects of the Company. The buy back of shares is in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders."