3i Invests US$15m in Singapore's Pearl Energy

3i has completed a US$15m growth capital investment in Singapore based Pearl Energy Pte Ltd ('Pearl') for an undisclosed minority equity stake.

Pearl is an independent exploration and production ('E&P') business with a portfolio of oil and gas interests across Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. It was set up in 2002 with financial backing from PT Austindo Nusantara Jaya ('ANJ'), a private Indonesian investment company wholly owned by the Tahija family.

Pearl is exclusively focused on South East Asia, employing around 60 people. The company currently owns interests in three producing properties in Salawati Basin, Salawati Island and Jambi; two new oilfield developments projects are also underway in Sumatra and Thailand, which should both commence oil production in 2005 and will increase considerably the size of the business. The company also has an extensive inventory of contingent resources and exploration prospects.

"Based on its fundamentals, Pearl is a compelling investment proposition – a first class management team with strong domain knowledge, an attractive portfolio of E&P interests and continued high demand for oil & gas across the region. 3i's strong track record of investing in oil and gas businesses and our international network mean that we are the right partners to work with both ANJ and Pearl's management team as they grow the business further. Pearl has the potential to become a substantial company" said Mark Thornton, Managing Director of 3i SE Asia and also based in Singapore.

The management team of Pearl which was started in 2002 consists of three founders: CEO Keith Cameron, Richard Lorentz as Director Business Development and Chris Gibson-Robinson as Director Exploration and Operations, who between them have on average 25 years each of experience in the sector.

Commenting on the 3i investment, CEO of Pearl, Keith Cameron said: "With ANJ's initial backing we have come a long way over the last two years. We have assembled an exciting portfolio of E&P interests and the timing is right to introduce new partners to help us maximise the value we create from them. 3i understands our business and has extensive oil & gas expertise - we believe that there is scope for 3i to add value to Pearl beyond just capital".