BP And Det Norske Agree $1.3B Norwegian Oil Merger
OSLO/LONDON, June 10 (Reuters) - Oil companies BP and Det norske have agreed to merge their Norwegian businesses in a $1.3 billion share deal to cut costs, increase profitability and challenge Statoil's Norwegian offshore dominance.
The new venture will offer BP an opportunity to tap into new oil production capacity and reserves in the next decade after cutting its exploration budget in recent years to counter the slump in oil prices.
The deal will strengthen Det norske's position as the biggest independent operator of Norwegian oil platforms behind state-controlled Statoil, which is responsible for 60 percent of the Nordic country's oil and gas output.
"BP and (Det norske majority shareholder) Aker have matured a close collaboration through decades and we are pleased to take advantage of the industrial expertise of both companies to create a large independent E&P (exploration and production) company," BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley said in a statement.
A quarterly dividend policy would be introduced by the merged entity, to be called Aker BP, with the first payment to be planned for the fourth quarter of 2016, conditional upon the approval of creditors, the companies said.
(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen in Oslo and Ron Bousso in London; Writing by Gwladys Fouche in Oslo; Editing by David Goodman)
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