August 22, 2017 / 7:17 AM / a month ago

Oil major Total's shares rise as analysts welcome Maersk Oil deal

General view of the Total oil refinary in Leuna, November 19, 2014. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

PARIS (Reuters) - Shares in Total (TOTF.PA) rose on Tuesday on the back of upbeat analyst comments regarding the French oil major’s $7.45 billion takeover of Maersk Oil (MAERSKb.CO).

Total was up 0.8 percent in early session trading, among the top performers on France's benchmark CAC-40 index .FCHI.

“The credentials of this deal, and the deals in Brazil and Uganda last year, suggest that Total is able to realign the portfolio in a manner that is not value-destructive,” Citigroup analysts said in a research note.

Over the last year, Total has expanded its holding in Uganda’s Lake Albert oil project by snapping up most of Tullow Oil’s (TLW.L) stake, and has agreed to buy some assets in Brazil from Petroleo Brasileiro (PBR.N).

Citigroup kept a “buy” rating on Total, while UBS increased its rating on Total to “buy” from “neutral”.

Ion-Marc Valahu, a fund manager at Geneva-based firm Clairinvest said he thought the price paid for Maersk Oil was a reasonable one for Total.

“I think it’s positive. It’s not too expensive,” said Valahu, whose firm owns some Total shares.

Total’s shares remain down by around 10 percent since the start of 2017, impacted by pressure on crude oil prices. [O/R]

Yet Total expects Maersk Oil - its biggest oil deal since buying Elf in 2000 - to generate financial synergies of more than $400 million per year, in particular by combining assets in the North Sea. It also said the acquisition would boost earnings and cash flow.

Deutsche Bank analysts also gave a positive reception to the Maersk Oil takeover, nudging up their price target on Total to 51 euros from 50, and keeping a “buy” rating on the stock.

“This looks a good deal. The addition of material production offering modest 5-year growth, with scope for sizeable synergies, at a price which is both accretive to annual free cash flow and earnings shouldn’t be scoffed at,” they wrote.

Additional reporting by Blandine Henault; Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Louise Heavens and David Evans

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