Gabon to buy Carlyle’s oil business, preempting $1.3bn sale

*Carlyle Group backed Assala Energy.

London — Gabon’s national oil company has agreed to acquire Carlyle’s (CG.O), opens new tab Assala Energy after it used its right to preempt the sale of the business for $1.3 billion to France’s Maurel & Prom, the firms said on Friday.

Maurel & Prom had agreed in August to acquire Assala Energy for $730 million, a deal which also included rolling over a $600 million credit facility.

But following a military coup in the west African country in late August, the Gabonese national oil firm sought to exercise its preemptive right on the acquisition in November.

The French energy company Maurel & Prom said the new purchase agreement to Gabon Oil Company “supersedes” the deal it had made with the private equity giant.

Carlyle said the terms of the new deal were “materially the same”.

The office of Gabon’s presidency said the deal would allow the country to secure and manage its natural resources and boost its finances.

Carlyle’s non-U.S. energy arm CIEP first invested in Assala in 2017 when it acquired Shell’s (SHEL.L), opens new tab ageing operations in Gabon for $628 million.

Gabon produces about 200,000 barrels a day (bpd) of crude oil, making it the second-smallest OPEC producer.

Assala has increased its production in the African country by 30% since the 2017 acquisition to 45,000 bpd, and has also boosted the size of its oil and gas reserves by 160% through exploration, Carlyle said last August.

*Gaëlle Sheehan & Ron Bousso; editing: Himani Sarkar & Jan Harvey – Reuters

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