| LONDON, April 21
LONDON, April 21 Neptune Oil & Gas moved closer
to the $2 billion purchase of a majority stake in the
exploration and production arm of French utility Engie after
agreeing Chinese sovereign fund CIC could increase its minority
stake in the target firm, sources said.
China Investment Corporation (CIC) will increase its stake
in Engie E&P to 49 percent, after buying the initial 30 percent
in 2011 for 2.3 billion euros ($2.47 billion), two sources close
to the matter told Reuters.
Neptune Oil & Gas, set up in 2015 by private equity funds
Carlyle Group and CVC Capital Partner to build a North
Sea E&P company led by former Centrica CEO Sam Laidlaw, is set
to announce the acquisition of a majority stake in Engie's
business within weeks, banking and industry sources said.
Some details of the deal are yet to be finalised and the
upcoming French elections could further delay the completion of
the deal, according to the sources. The French state owns around
29 percent of the company, according to Engie's website.
The full value of the business is estimated at around $4
A Carlyle spokeswoman declined to comment. Engie and CIC
were not immediately available to comment.
The size of CIC's stake following the sale became a major
stumbling block as the Chinese partners initially sought to
increase their holding to above 50 percent, the sources said.
The French utility, formerly known as GDF Suez, last year
hired Bank of America-Merrill Lynch to exit from oil and gas
exploration and stop burning coal. Its upstream assets span from
the UK to Norway and Germany, Algeria, Egypt and Asia.
(Reporting by Clara Denina and Ron Bousso; Editing by Mark