Exxon woos GKP to gain Kurdish base
US oil supermajor Exxon Mobil is understood to have sounded out London-listed Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP) over a possible deal that could value the Kurdistan-focused group at around £7bn.
GKP has a market capitalisation of around £1.5bn and is listed on the junior Aim market, but its chief executive, Todd Kozel, believes the group could eventually go for double-figure billions. GKP is sitting on what is considered to be one of the world's great recent oil finds – Shaikan, about 50 miles north-west of Kurdistan's capital, Erbil – but the regional government is known to want a supermajor on board to properly fund and develop the field.
It is thought that the board would not accept the estimated £8-a-share that Exxon is considering and that a number of other companies, perhaps including China's Sinopec and Californian giant Chevron, are monitoring the situation. There is even some speculation that an informal four-way auction for GKP might be under way, while it is also believed that the company has spoken to at least two smaller businesses about potentially developing its assets in a joint venture.
Last month, it emerged that Exxon was the first of the oil industry's giants to enter Kurdistan, taking six licences. However, this has angered the government in Baghdad because there are old territorial disputes between Iraq and Kurdistan.
Baghdad had threatened to terminate Exxon's existing deal in southern Iraq and it had been reported that the US giant might reconsider its licences in Kurdistan. However, the lucrative potential of the Kurdistan fields means that analysts expect Exxon will pursue opportunities in the semi-autonomous region and may already have taken additional positions to those licences previously revealed.
There are suggestions that Exxon's interest in GKP was discussed at a board meeting 10 days ago and that initial soundings may have been taken at least six weeks ago. Last month, much of the oil world descended on Erbil for a conference that highlighted the extraordinary oil opportunities in Kurdistan, with Mr Kozel one of the key speakers.
It is believed that Mr Kozel would be happy to sell up soon and has even started mulling over his next venture. The American businessman is one of the most colourful figures in the City and has a base of devoted retail investors who are waiting for a takeover of GKP to make them rich.
GKP declined to comment. Exxon did not return calls.
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
Poppy Appeal 2014: This is why I won't be wearing a red poppy this year
iJobs Money & Business
£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...
£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...