Ophir Energy plc announced the simultaneous completion of placing of no less than 47 million new ordinary shares at 250 pence per share to Mittal Investments S.a.r.l. in two tranches, the placing of 20.38 million new ordinary shares at 250 pence per share to certain of the Company's non-executive directors and institutional clients of JPMorgan Cazenove Limited.
Upon completion of the second Mittal tranche, the gross proceeds from these transactions will have exceeded GBP168 million. Additionally, there has been conversion of a GBP49.8 million convertible bond previously held by Oil and Gas Exploration Limited into 21,661,476 million new ordinary shares at a conversion price of 230 pence per share allotted to Standard Bank Plc.
The implied market capitalization of the Company following completion of each of these transactions is GBP558 million.
The Company intends to use the majority of the proceeds to finance its planned exploratory drilling programs in 2008 and 2009. Furthermore, Ophir will use the proceeds to fulfill license and contractual obligations as well as retaining some financial flexibility to take advantage of new venture opportunities.
Ophir has secured the use of the dynamically positioned drillship, Deep Venture, for a continuous drilling program of up to 155 days, which is expected to commence shortly. The Company's 2008 drilling campaign will focus on exploration prospects in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. In the event of discovering hydrocarbons, the Company has plans in place to allow for swift follow-up and appraisal drilling.
Alan Stein, Ophir's Managing Director, stated, "We are delighted that such a strong group of institutional shareholders have recognised Ophir as a compelling investment proposition, and are particularly pleased to welcome Mittal Investments Limited S.a.r.l. as a cornerstone investor. In a relatively short period of time, thanks to the efforts of management and staff, and with the support of our shareholders, the Company has been able to secure the portfolio, equipment and necessary funding to proceed with one of the most significant deepwater exploration campaigns undertaken in Africa in recent years. Starting with the Deep Venture in 2008, the West Polaris in 2009 and the West Aquarius in 2010, the Company already has more than 500 days of operated deepwater rig time at its disposal. At a time of increasing competition for both acreage and equipment, Ophir's rare combination of technical expertise, proven track record and, rig sharing agreements provides a strong partner for the Governments, on whose behalf we seek to develop the natural resources of Africa."
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