UPDATE 1-Imperial Oil sells properties to Whitecap for C$855 mln

Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:40am EDT

CALGARY, Alberta, March 17 (Reuters) - Imperial Oil Ltd , Canada's No.3 oil and gas company, said on Monday Whitecap Resources Inc has agreed to buy some of its oil and gas properties in Western Canada for about C$855 million ($771.14 million) as it focuses on its oil sands and shale properties in the region.

Imperial Oil, 69.6 percent owned by Exxon Mobil Corp , said the properties in British Columbia and Alberta had produced about 15,000 barrel of oil equivalent per day in 2013.

Imperial is in the midst of expanding its Kearl and Cold Lake oil sands projects and seeking regulatory approval for the C$7 billion Aspen oil sands project. The company also operates in several of Western Canada's shale-petroleum regions and often sells properties it no longer considers central to its operations.

"It's our long standing practice to continually review assets for their contribution to meeting strategic, operational and financial objectives," said Leanne Dohy, a spokeswoman for the Calgary-based company.

For Whitecap, the acquisition is one of several announcements that will see the mid-sized Western Canadian oil and gas producer double its production and increase its dividend by 10 percent.

Along with the purchase of Imperial's properties, Whitecap agreed to sell a natural-gas processing plant in Alberta to Keyera Corp for C$113 million and buy an undisclosed private oil and gas producer with assets in north central Alberta for C$107 million.

To finance its acquisition, Whitecap arranged to sell 44.6 million subscription receipts priced at C$11.20 each to a group of underwriters led by National Bank Financial and TD Securities Inc for gross proceeds of about C$500 million.

The company will also increase its monthly dividend by about 10 percent to 6.25 Canadian cents per share from 5.67 Canadian cents because of the additional cash flow provided by the acquisition.

Whitecap said it expects its deals to boost its expected 2014 production by 13 percent to 31,600 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), three-quarters of which will be high-value oil and natural-gas liquids.

It also raised its cash flow per share forecast for the year by 7 percent to C$2.13.

Whitecap shares were up 42 Canadian cents to C$11.95 by late morning on the Toronto Stock Exchange while Imperial rose 4 Canadian cents to C$51.11.

The transactions is expected to close in May.

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