MILAN, Nov 18 (Reuters) – Shares in Saipem rose 4 percent after an Italian newspaper said Norway's Seadrill was interested in buying the oil services firm's large offshore drilling business.
Analysts estimate that Saipem's drilling division is worth up to 3.9 billion euros ($5.26 billion), half of Saipem's market capitalisation.
A sale would help the Italian group, and its top shareholder Eni, cut debt, traders said.
"The disposal could help Saipem strengthen its financial structure," said one Milan trader.
Saipem's shares could be worth as much as 26-30 euros, up from from 18 euros currently, analysts at Mediobanca said.
"If confirmed this would be extremely positive news for both Saipem and Eni," according to a Mediobanca's report.
Saipem and Seadrill declined to comment.
Seadrill, worth $22 billion on the market, has grown through a string of acquisitions and could use the proceeds of the U.S. listing of one of its units to make an acquisition in Italy.
Saipem shares were up 4.2 percent at 18.42 euros at 0943 GMT, outperforming the Italian blue chip index FTSE MIB , which was up 0.7 percent.
Shares in Eni, which owns 43 percent of Saipem, were up 0.4 percent at 18.13 euros per shares. ($1 = 0.7421 euros)
(Additional reporting by Stephen Jewkes, Giancarlo Navach, Maria Pia Quaglia in Milan and Gwladys Fouche in Oslo,; Editing by Lisa Jucca and Louise Heavens)
Copyright 2016 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.
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