BG plans pounds 5bn international expansion

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BG, THE GAS transportation and exploration group, yesterday unveiled plans to double the size of its international division over the next four years with a pounds 5bn investment programme.

The announcement fuelled speculation that BG International, which is made up of the group's exploration and production, liquified natural gas and power generation interests, is being lined up for demerger. In May, BG was restructured into two legally separate businesses, BG International and Transco, its UK transmission arm.

That restructuring, which was accompanied by plans to replace pounds 1.5bn of equity withindex-linked bonds, was designed to load most of BG's debt into Transco, allowing the international arm to expand faster.

The expansion plans include an increase in return on capital to 20 per cent by 2003 and a rise in oil and gas production to 425,000 barrels per day.

Last year, BG International had a turnover of pounds 1.2bn and made profits of pounds 225m. Its president, Frank Chapman, said demerger was not part of the group's plans because of the synergies between Transco and the international arm.