Just over two months after raising more than US$2.0 billion to invest in promising oil and gas projects in developing markets, Vallares PLC ("Vallares" or the "Company") today announces that it plans to merge with Genel Energy International Ltd ("Genel"), the largest oil producer in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Genel has stakes in two world-scale producing oil fields, a major gas condensate discovery and significant exploration acreage, all in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
The merger will be achieved through an all-share reverse-takeover in which Vallares will issue new shares worth US$2.1 billion at a price of £10 a share to acquire 100 per cent. of Genel, giving Vallares and Genel's current owners equal stakes in the combined business.
The transaction is subject to the approval of the Kurdistan Regional Government which is expected to be given later this month.
The newly enlarged company, to be renamed Genel Energy PLC, intends to publish a prospectus in October in order to get the consideration shares admitted to the standard listing segment of the Official List and to trading on the London Stock Exchange's main market for listed securities. Vallares shares will be suspended from trading in the meantime.
Tony Hayward will be Chief Executive Officer and Julian Metherell will be Chief Financial Officer. Both will sit on the Board. Nathaniel Rothschild will be a Non-Executive Director.
Mehmet Karamehmet, Genel's current majority owner with a stake of 56.18 per cent. will nominate his daughter, Gulsun Nazli Karamehmet Williams, as a Non-Executive Director. Mehmet Sepil, who has 29.06 per cent. and is currently Chief Executive of Genel will become President. Murat Yazici will be Mehmet Sepil's nominee to the Board. Mehmet Karamehmet and Mehmet Sepil have committed to retain their interests in the newly enlarged company for one and two years respectively.
Rodney Chase, Non-Executive Chairman, said: "Genel Energy PLC will have a majority of independent directors and is expected to be fully compliant with UK corporate governance rules from closing. Our aim is to achieve a premium listing early in 2012."
The other Non-Executive Directors include James Leng, Sir Graham Hearne, George Rose and Mark Parris, whose appointment to the Board (which will become effective from the completion of the merger) is also announced today. A further two Independent Non-Executive Directors are expected to be appointed with effect from the completion of the merger.
Announcing details of the deal in London today, Tony Hayward said: "I believe our investors are acquiring a strong existing business with excellent producing assets, a fine team of technical and operating staff already in place, and immense potential for future growth. Most importantly, we are doing so at the attractive entry price of some US$1.50 a barrel."
Mehmet Sepil said: "The scale of recent hydrocarbon discoveries in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has been significant and I think this trend will continue. Today's combination gives us an internationally listed, well-capitalised and agile company which already has deep experience, good relationships and first-class assets in the region."
As indicated at the time of the IPO, it is intended that the Company will move to the premium listing segment of the Official List and to trading on the London Stock Exchange's main market for listed securities. The Company is expected to be among the top three independent UK listed E&P companies by 2P reserves, with an estimated unrisked resource base of 1.4 billion boe, including proved and probable reserves of 356 million barrels. Current production is 41,000 barrels a day, projected to rise to 90,000 barrels by 2013.
"The Kurdistan Region of Iraq is undoubtedly one of the last great oil and gas frontiers. Arguably, it is the last big onshore 'easy' oil province available for exploration by private companies anywhere in the world" Hayward said.
"The US Geological Survey estimates the Kurdistan Region of Iraq's yet-to-find hydrocarbons at 40 billion barrels of oil and 60 trillion cubic feet of gas - which puts it on a par, for instance, with the UK North Sea. Of the 49 wells drilled there over the last six years, more than 70 per cent. have been successful."
Hayward said finding and development costs were low - typically between US$2 and US$4 a barrel and predicted that the prevailing transportation fee of around US$3 a barrel would fall as more pipeline infrastructure was built, particularly the planned South-North KICE link to the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline.
Technical services and logistics will be run out of Ankara where Genel currently has a team of around 50 mainly technical and financial staff, with around a further 430 field and site employees on the ground in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Genel's biggest producing asset is the Taq Taq field where it has a 44 per cent. working interest and is joint operator. It holds a 25 per cent. stake in the smaller Tawke field, near the Turkish border which is operated by DNO. Their proven and probable gross reserves are estimated at 647 million and 286 million boe respectively under the McDaniel & Associates competent persons report to be included in the prospectus to be published in connection with the transaction.
Genel's exploration portfolio, which Hayward described as "the most exciting element of this transaction", comprises interests in six licences and runs from Peshkabir in the North of the region to Chia Surkh in the extreme South. Results from the Summail-1 well, which began drilling in April in the Dohuk prospect, are due before the end of the year.
A further five exploration wells are planned over the next 12 months to assess the full potential of the acreage. The exploration activity is targeting a total resource in excess of 750 million barrels net to Genel.
Hayward said that, net of cost recovery, the region's fiscal terms left Genel with eight per cent. of gross sales income and that cashflow from the current producing assets would be sufficient to fund their continued development, together with the ongoing exploration programme.
This would leave substantial reserves of cash for the Company and the opportunity "to participate aggressively in the significant consolidation we expect to see in the region over the next few years and to expand elsewhere if good opportunities arise."
Describing the Kurdistan Region of Iraq as "one of the calmest parts of Iraq, with a track-record of stability and security" Hayward said the democratically-elected Kurdistan Regional Government had worked hard to promote oil development and had already signed production-sharing agreements with more than 40 international companies.
He said the political relationship between the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Baghdad was showing increasing alignment, oil exports were flowing again and Genel and other producers had received payment for first quarter export sales from the Federal Ministry of Finance and a second is in the process of being paid. Export prices at Ceyhan were at international levels. Sales into the domestic market made between US$50 to US$70 a barrel in August.
"The debate on Iraqi oil law continues but, while the outcome remains to be finalised, what is clear is that the Kurdistan Regional Government and their elected representatives in Baghdad will have a major influence on any legislation that is ultimately passed" Hayward added.
He concluded: "I believe Vallares is acquiring access to a world-class resource at a competitive entry cost at a time when Iraq's politics are becoming more stable. The prospects for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and its oil sector have never been brighter."