Neptune Energy looks to sell for $5 billion as Eni deal stalls

Dinesh Nair, Alberto Brambilla and William Mathis, Bloomberg March 23, 2023

(Bloomberg) — Neptune Energy Group is moving ahead with plans for a sale after talks about a takeover by Italian energy group Eni SpA stalled, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The oil and gas operator, which is backed by private equity firms Carlyle Group Inc. and CVC Capital Partners, is working with advisers to gauge interest from other potential buyers, according to the people. It’s attracting interest from other firms in the energy industry, the people said.

Eni’s interest in a deal cooled in recent months after disagreements over price, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. A sale could value Neptune at more than $5 billion, Bloomberg News reported in November.

Neptune’s deliberations are ongoing, and no final decisions about whether to proceed with a sale have been made, the people said. Representatives for Eni, Neptune, Carlyle and CVC couldn’t immediately be reached or didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Dealmaking in the oil and gas sector is accelerating as global governments prioritize security of supply and the biggest players and investors seek to deploy capital.

To be sure, many of the mergers and acquisitions have targeted more environmentally-friendly sources of energy and a takeover of Neptune by Eni would have represented a rare upstream acquisition by a European major amid this broader industry shift to renewables.

Neptune was formed in 2015 by former Centrica Plc boss Sam Laidlaw. Its owners have been working with advisers including Rothschild & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to explore options for its business, including a possible sale.

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