United Energy plans $750 million-$1 billion acquisition

HONG KONG Fri Sep 9, 2011 1:04am EDT

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HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong-listed United Energy Group Ltd (0467.HK) is looking to acquire assets valued at about $750 million to $1 billion from established oil companies, as it seeks to expand its global footprint after securing BP Plc's (BP.L) portfolio of Pakistan oil and gas assets.

Executive director Leo Kirby told reporters that the company was targeting deals equal to or bigger than its recent deal with London-listed BP, and was seeking acquisitions in Africa, the Americas and Asia.

Armed with a $5 billion project financing loan from China Development Bank Corp CHDB.UL, Kirby and Chief Financial Officer Thomas Pang, said the company was focused on large acquisitions likely to complement China's oil majors such as oil giant PetroChina Co Ltd (0857.HK) (601857.SS).

"We can easily see a way of at least growing the company fivefold in the next five years by deploying that capital and accreting some value in a 4-5 year timeframe to see our way becoming a $10 billion enterprise," Kirby said.

Russia, Europe and sanctioned countries including Iran, Sudan and North Korea would not be areas of focus, he added.

United Energy, with a market capitalization of about $1 billion, bought oil giant BP's upstream oil and gas assets in Pakistan for $775 million in cash last December.

While Pakistan is a higher risk environment, Kirby said he saw little disruption to operations as the company supplied a sixth of gas in Pakistan and had good government relations and local support.

Shares in United Energy, which also has operations in China and Indonesia, have fallen 46 percent since the start of the year.

"We quite like the model of large oil companies exiting countries where we take over their operations, take over their people," Kirby said.

The executives said United Energy was hoping to complete an acquisition by next year but could not be more specific.

(Editing by Chris Lewis)

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