TAQA CEO Pulls Back on Plans for London Listing

LONDON Apr 24, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (TAQA.AD) Chief Executive Peter Barker-Homek has cooled his enthusiasm to list in London up to a quarter of the rapidly growing state-run company, insisting feedback from money managers and shareholders means the company will remain listed in its home territory for the foreseeable future.

In an interview with Dow Jones Newswires Monday ahead of meeting bondholders in London, the one-time BP PLC (BP) executive says a London listing isn't an option for now, with the company now concentrating on absorbing its newly-acquired assets while continuing to eye opportunities in the North Sea, Iraq and elsewhere.

The prospect of a London listing "has been a big debate for me as CEO and also when reflecting upon what's right for the Abu Dhabi securities market, what's right for current shareholders, and what will help broaden our stakeholder base."

He has undergone a rethink, he explains, "because money managers around the world have largely said 'liberalize your securities market and we're happy to buy you there.'

"My thought was that initially we'd have to go to the London Stock Exchange to get global stakeholders and, quite frankly, the message I'm getting is 'no'."

Still, he remains committed to attracting international stakeholders in the medium term.

The company, better known as TAQA, is 75% owned by the Abu Dhabi government.

Fueled by the emirate's petrodollars and the company's tightening grip on power generation in the wealthy and rapidly-growing Persian Gulf region, TAQA has embarked on an international acquisitions and debt program.

Its goal, as it likes to say, is to provide energy from "well head to wall socket".

That is likely to lead soon to it mopping up some $100 million to $200 million-worth of North Sea oil and gas assets owned by joint-venture partner Petro-Canada (PCA.T) and striking a deal within three months to acquire a ship to turn liquefied natural gas into gas for Europe.

Elsewhere, it will issue some $3 billion in Islamic bonds and $6 billion in euro medium term notes, a source familiar with the company's policy says.

The Petro-Canada deal would be the latest in a spate of deals intended to triple the size of the company in terms of asset value to as much as $60 billion over the next four years.

TAQA has spent $2.63 billion since November, buying up BP's Dutch gas exploration and production assets, some of Talisman Energy Inc's (TLM.T) North Sea stakes, and power plant stakes in the Gulf owned by CMS Energy Corp. (CMS) and ABB Ltd (ABB).

A Wish List But Avoid Indigestion

TAQA also joins the lengthening queue of energy companies closely eyeing opportunities in conflict-wracked Iraq.

Though not in talks with the Kurdistan Regional Government in the oil-rich and more stable north of the country, Barker-Homek's eyes light up at the wealth locked up there. In Kurdistan, "the reserves are very rich, very deep" he says.

But security concerns mean "the issue is getting the product out. If those issues can be resolved, certainly we would be very interested.

"Iraq is one of the areas we'd like to invest in the future. We'd certainly like to help the Kurdistan economy develop over time."

But the company must avoid indigestion, Barker-Homek indicates: "The challenge to TAQA this year is integrating and optimizing" the assets it has mopped up, something other companies often fail to do. "If we can do that we can become a company of scale."

A priority is to secure a vessel to be moored off Rotterdam to turn liquid gas into gas for storage ahead of shipping it into Europe's pipelines.

Project Seahorse, as it is known, will pipe the gas from the floating storage and regasification unit, or FRSU, into a depleted gas field offshore the Netherlands ahead of being moved ashore.

Barker-Homek says in the interview; "We're in discussion with a number of suppliers of FRSUs and we hope to be able to make an announcement on Project Seahorse probably within the next 30-90 days."

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