UPDATE 1-Murphy Oil eyes sale of up to $3bln worth of Asia assets- sources

Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:50pm EST

* The company could just sell 30pct of Malaysian business

* Murphy joins other US companies in scaling back from Asia

* Good demand for Newfield's Southeast Asia sale triggers

By Denny Thomas

HONG KONG, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Murphy Oil Corp is considering selling of some of its Asian oil and gas assets in a deal that could fetch up to $3 billion, people familiar with the matter said, as it joins other U.S. energy companies in scaling back from the region.

Energy majors from BP to Shell have faced pressure from shareholders to control spending and return spare cash amid concerns over the impact of rising costs and the returns available if oil prices drop.

Murphy's planned sale comes after Newfield Exploration Co and Hess Corp sold their Southeast Asia operations, partly to address share price underperformance.

Murphy's move to shed its Asian assets was prompted in part by the strong demand generated from the Newfield and Hess auctions last year, the people told Reuters.

They said, however, that the process was still in its early stages and that Murphy could in the end decide not to sell.

Murphy, which has a $10.7 billion market value, is working with a U.S.-based consultant which has reached out to some potential Asian energy companies and sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East, the people added.

Murphy has interests in oil and gas fields in Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brunei and Australia. Malaysia is the biggest of Murphy's Asian portfolios, and accounted for more than 45 percent of its total 2012 net production, according to the company's website.

One of the deal structures being discussed include selling just 30 percent of the Malaysian operations, one of the people said.

A Murphy spokesman did not immediately reply to an email and a call to his office seeking comment.

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