Tullow Oil gets 95.3% backing for $750m share sale

Banks underwriting the share sale will seek to sell by tomorrow morning the remaining stock being offered

An oil drilling block managed by British company Tullow Oil at Lokichar basin in Turkana county, Kenya.(Photograph: TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

An oil drilling block managed by British company Tullow Oil at Lokichar basin in Turkana county, Kenya.(Photograph: TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Tullow Oil revealed on Tuesday that 95.3 per cent of investors holding rights to participate on the company’s planned $750 million (€690 million) share sale have paid up to do so.

Banks underwriting the share sale, including Barclays, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley, subsequently placed the remaining stock on offer in the open market.

Tullow Oil announced on St Patrick’s Day that it planned to raise the equity by tapping its shareholders through a rights issue in a bid to cut its $4.8 billion debt mountain as it prepares to refinance more than $3 billion of bank facilities this year.

The company had seen brisk trading in the rights to participate in the offering on the London Stock Exchange in recent weeks, suggesting that a number of new investors will come on board as a result.

The company’s founder and outgoing chief executive, Aidan Heavey, and his family investment vehicle, JSN Investments, sold almost a third of his existing shareholding in recent weeks, raising £4.1 million (€4.8 million) in the process, to raise funds to purchase stock in the deeply discounted rights issue.

Shares were offered at a price of £1.30 in the rights issue, compared to stock’s £2.116 closing price on Monday in London and the price of about £2.30 at which Mr Heavey and JSN had been selling some of their holdings two weeks’ ago.

Mr Heavey (64) is set to step down as chief executive after the group’s annual general meeting on Wednesday, after more than three decades in charge of the oil group. He will be succeeded by his current chief operating officer, Paul McDade, who bought £202,827 of stock in the rights issue, according to stock exchange filings on Tuesday.

Mr Heavey will become chairman of the company for up to two years as the group beds in change at the top. While it runs counter to UK corporate governance guildelines for a chief executive to become a non-executive chairman, the company has said it was important to carry out such a transition, given the importance of Mr Heavey’s relationships with Tullow’s African partners and shareholders.

However, Royal London Asset Management, which owns almost 1 per cent of Tullow’s stock, said it plans to oppose Mr Heavey’s nomination as chairman as well as the company’s plans to pay him his chief executive salary and benefits for his first six months in the new role.