Abbot Invests US$50m to Acquire Ten Rigs in Libya

The Abbot Group announces that, through its subsidiary Abbot Investments (North Africa) Limited, it has acquired the entire issued share capital of International Air Drilling Company Limited ('IADC'), a Gibraltar registered company with operations in Libya, for a total cash consideration of US$50 million, funded from Abbot's existing credit lines and cash resources.

IADC, through its subsidiary and associate companies, owns and operates ten workover and drilling rigs in Libya, the majority of which are under contract to both Libyan and western operators.

The ten rigs will complement the five rigs that Abbot's subsidiary, KCA DEUTAG, already owns and operates in Libya, which with two new rigs currently under construction and due for delivery in 2005, will make KCA DEUTAG the largest western owned drilling contractor in the country.

Based upon unaudited accounts for the year ended 31st December 2003, IADC made a consolidated profit before tax of US$4.6 million. Net assets at completion are estimated at US$20 million.

Alasdair Locke, Executive Chairman of Abbot, said:

'We are delighted to have concluded this deal as it places our operating companies in the strongest possible position to benefit from the relaxation of sanctions and the gearing up of the Libyan market.

There are already strong indications of a major improvement in the prospects for significant work in the immediate future. The recent announcement of the return of a number of US based oil majors clearly indicates that the outlook for both the medium and longer term is extremely good.

Libya today has the largest oil reserves base in Africa, but is a relatively underdeveloped province, particularly for gas. Given its position in North Africa, with its proximity to European markets and anticipated gas prospects, I believe this acquisition, which follows our policy of strategic positioning, will not only bring immediate value to the Group, but provide an opportunity for continued benefits in the future.

In addition, we will continue to seek opportunities to acquire further assets in our chosen geographic areas of operations.'