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Enoc 'won't sell Dragon to pay Dubai debts'

London, December 2, 2009

Dubai-controlled refiner Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc) will retain control of explorer Dragon Oil, quashing speculation of a sale based on Dubai's need for cash to meet crushing debt obligations.

Enoc said in a statement on Wednesday it remained committed to a November 2 bid for the remaining 48 per cent of the London- and Dublin-listed firm for about $1.8 billion, valuing Dragon at $3.9 billion.

Analysts, many of whom said the 455 pence/share bid price was low, had speculated that Dubai's debt woes could prompt state-owned Enoc to sell Dragon on to another party for a profit upon completion of the takeover.

But Enoc said it will not sell any of its Dragon shares until the end of 2011.

A number of investors, including the largest minority shareholder, UK fund manager Baillie Gifford, have opposed the bid, saying it does not reflect the company's long-term potential.

Many analysts believe the bid has a high likelihood of success since Enoc already owns 52 per cent, though Dubai's announcement last week that it wanted to delay repayment of its debts, prompting fears of a default, sent Dragon shares lower.

Enoc's bid is part-financed by National Bank of Dubai.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's has placed the bank's credit ratings on a negative outlook due to its exposure to Dubai World, which last week sought a debt standstill.

Baillie Gifford had used the share drop to buy additional stock in Dragon, according to regulatory filings.

Dragon shares traded down 2.1 per cent at 395 pence at 1018 GMT, lagging a 0.25 per cent rise in the DJ Stoxx European oil and gas sector index.-Reuters




Tags: Dubai | debt | Emirates National Oil Company | Dragon oil |

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