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Dubai oil firm NPS eyes $700m from potential sale

Dubai, September 22, 2013

Dubai-based oil services firm NPS Energy, which tried to sell itself to Norway's Aker Solutions last year, has once again initiated a sale process to find a buyer, hoping to fetch up to $700 million, sources aware of the matter said.

Oil services company Aker agreed to buy NPS Energy for about $460 million in May 2012, including $110 million in debt, but the deal collapsed in November after the two parties failed to reach a final agreement.

A formal sale process for the business was initiated earlier this year, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter is not public.

NPS Energy is part of oilfield services company National Petroleum Services, which was formed in 2004 from the merger of oilfield businesses owned by two large family-owned groups in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Demand for oilfield services in the Middle East, the world's top oil producing region, has increased rapidly in the last few years.

NPS Energy has appointed British lender HSBC Holdings as a financial adviser for the transaction, according to the sources.

NPS Energy CEO Adnan Ghabris declined to comment, as did a spokesman for HSBC in Dubai.

NPS Energy employs around 800-900 people and offers specialised services, such as coil tubing, wire-line services, cementing, pressure pumping, well logging and testing.

The company, which one banking source said made earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of about $50 million in 2012, counts firms such as Saudi Aramco, the world's top oil producer, and state-owned Qatar Petroleum among its clients.

"It's a pretty sizeable asset and this is not the first time that it has come to the market looking for a buyer. It will be interesting to see who ends up owning it as there is a formal process now," the banking source said.

A second banking source said around 30 potential buyers were approached initially and a final list of three bidders was likely to be finalised this week.

"We could see a consortium teaming up for this asset as it's a big cheque to sign or it could be one of the large energy firms going for it. There's still a long way to go before a deal is sealed," that banking source said.

After several sluggish years, mergers and acquisitions activity within the Middle East is showing signs of revival, as economies in the Gulf countries improve and the valuation gap between buyers and sellers narrows.

The value of announced M&A transactions with Middle Eastern targets reached $14.7 billion during the first half of 2013, 30 percent more than the $11.3 billion in the region during the same period last year, and marking the best first half since 2008, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Last year, Gulf Capital, an Abu Dhabi-based private equity firm, put its majority-owned oil and gas services firm, Gulf Marine Sevices, on the block, hoping to raise about $500 million but the sale talks collapsed over valuation.

Gulf Capital has hired investment bank Rothschild as a financial adviser for a planned initial public offering of the unit on an overseas exchange in 2014, the firm's chief executive said last week.

HSBC is also an adviser on a majority stake sale of Saudi fast food chain Kudu, sources said in June, with private equity giant KKR among potential bidders.-Reuters




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