24 March 2016, London — French oil company Total has held talks to buy all or part of domestic rival Engie’s exploration and production (E&P) activities, worth about 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion), sources familiar with the situation said.
Total has already made two informal offers which Engie rejected as too low, two of the sources said.
It was not clear whether the two parties might reach an agreement, the sources added.
Total declined to comment.
Engie, formerly known as GDF Suez, has hired Bank of America (BAML) to sell operations in Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia, and BNP to sell activities in Azerbaijan, the sources said.
These assets have a combined value of about 2.5 billion euros, they said.
BAML and BNP were not immediately available for comment.
Other upstream activities part of Engie E&P International are also on the block and could either be sold to a rival such as Total or offloaded in a management buyout (MBO) backed by a few private equity funds active in the sector, the sources said.
Engie E&P could be worth about 2.5 billion euros and is owned 70 percent by Engie and 30 percent by Chinese partner CIC.
A deal with Total, dubbed the “French solution”, is seen as the preferred scenario as some of Engie’s E&P activities are linked to politically sensitive contracts, the sources said.
The disposals are part of Engie’s plan to sell up to 15 billion euros of assets over the next three years to cut debt and focus on electricity and power generation, its core business.
Engie’s E&P activities have a combined value of about 5 billion euros but could be sold in separate deals to maximize value, said the sources.
Activities in South East Asia are seen are less politically sensitive and could be sold to local players, two of the sources said.
*Sophie Sassard; Benjamin Mallet; Editing – Mark Potter – Reuters