Nomura Sees More M&A in the Oil Patch

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Investors and analysts have been talking about consolidation in the oil patch ever since the beginning of this year. But not many companies have stepped up to the plate, either as buyers or sellers. That could be about to change, according to analysts at Nomura.

Lloyd Byrne and Brian Downey have correctly, in our view, analyzed the past 12 months:

Energy M&A has seen a slow start in the current downcycle, as potential buyers were reluctant to pay more than the forward curve while sellers didn’t want to divest prematurely.

But, they note, these attitudes are changing:

With commodity prices remaining depressed, and outlooks becoming more pessimistic, the past few weeks have seen multiple transactions where prices paid appear fair to both parties … [and in which] valuations largely made sense in light of the prevailing forward curve.

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They point to two specific recent transactions: Encana’s sale of its Haynesville shale assets to Geosouthern Energy for $850 million and Total’s sale of a 10% working interest in its Fort Hills oil sands project to Suncor for $310 million. The analysts expect to see more of this kind of action:

We expect to see an increasing number of similar deals, as buyers look to opportunistically add to core competency positions (as this is the point where returns are made in cyclical industries) and private equity looks to deploy capital in the downcycle. Similarly, sellers use non-core proceeds to fill 2016E funding gaps and/or reinvest in higher-return core assets, as the compounding of “option value moves to option cost” is significant. To-date, the Majors have remained largely underexposed to shale.