In 2016, Oisín Fanning’s San Leon Energy completed a transformational, if highly involved, acquisition of an indirect 10 per cent stake in a major Nigerian offshore oilfield, known as OML 18, through a Mauritius vehicle called Midwestern Leon Petroleum Ltd (MLPL).
Over the following 12 months, two takeover approaches from Chinese suitors came and went, while its main shareholder UK hedge fund subsequently almost doubled its stake to 75 per cent.
Earlier this year, San Leon unveiled plans to take over certain assets of Nigeria’s Midwestern Oil and Gas Company, which is a 13 per cent shareholder in San Leon, by way of a reverse takeover. The deal – and this is the simplified version – was to increase San Leon’s indirect OML 18 stake to more than 44.1 per cent.
It was also to involve Midwestern transferring its stake in Energy Link Infrastructure (Malta), or ELI, a provider of crude oil transport and storage systems within the Niger Delta area of Nigeria, to San Leon.
However, drift in getting a loan facility over the line – contributing to delays in San Leon’s 2022 accounts and its shares being suspended in July – resulted in that plan being scrapped in October.
The following day, San Leon revealed it had agreed to raise $187 million (€173 million) by way of convertible loans from US investment house Tri Ri Asset Management (TRAM) to pursue a different deal.
The funds were earmarked to allow San Leon take a controlling stake in ELI as well certain new assets in MLPL (which, incidentally, owes San Leon about $120 million). There were reports in some quarters that the deal could ultimately give San Leon, which had a market value of £74 million (€86 million) when it was suspended a $1 billion valuation.
San Leon said on November 2nd that TRAM had pressed the send button on initial funds and that the money would land in a UK account “shortly”. More than month later, it’s still waiting for the funds to materialise.
Investors will be hoping that Fanning is already working on another plan – even if it’s unlikely to be less complex than anything else he has come up with in recent times.