x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Dana Gas to revisit international share listing

Dana Gas is reviving plans for an international listing after refinancing a troublesome bond and boosting its earnings.

Gas is flared off at an Iraqi field. Dana Gas was one of the first companies to brave the uncertainties of operating in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Essam Al-Sudani / AFP
Gas is flared off at an Iraqi field. Dana Gas was one of the first companies to brave the uncertainties of operating in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Essam Al-Sudani / AFP

Dana Gas is reviving plans for an international listing after refinancing a troublesome bond and boosting its earnings.

The Sharjah-based gas producer first announced its intention to list its shares abroad two years ago. Since then revenue streams from its key markets have been reduced to a trickle, and the company was late in repaying the principal on a US$1bn sukuk.

The company managed to refinance the bond after it came due and net profits jumped by a fifth last year as payments out of Egypt and the Kurdish region of Iraq increased. With its finances stabilised, Dana executives believe the company is undervalued on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where it is listed.

"We as the board believe that the share price does not reflect the underlying asset value, the P/E [price-earnings] ratio … is extremely low for a company in this sector growing at the rate we're growing," said Majid Jafar, the managing director of the board of Dana Gas. "So we are looking at alternative approaches for achieving value for shareholders."

At 6, Dana's P/E ratio - a gauge of the value of a company's shares - is well below the ADX average of 10.11.

Apart from a listing on an exchange abroad, Dana is also considering changes to the company structure, Mr Jafar added.

"The various options are under study, and a lot of the groundwork has already been done in terms of the legal and accounting work," said Mr Jafar, who also acts as chief executive of Crescent Petroleum, the main shareholder in Dana Gas.

Dana's share price yesterday jumped 8 per cent to a 17-month high of Dh57, before settling at Dh56, after market rumours purported that firm might sell off its assets in Kurdish Iraq and list them separately. A company spokesman dismissed the speculation as baseless. Mr Jafar did not say when the company intended to launch an offering abroad or which exchange it is targeting.

The company first openly considered a listing abroad two years ago, when the then Dana Gas chief executive told The National that the gas producer was weighing a listing on the London Stock Exchange, citing a poor valuation on the local bourse. Not long after, the company's finances took a turn for the worse, as payments for gas produced in Egypt were interrupted by the political chaos of the Arab Spring. Revenues owed by the Kurdish Regional Government were withheld by the central government, which distributes oil and gas remuneration via the state budget. Baghdad regards the contracts between international oil companies and Erbil as illegal.

The cash shortfall and illiquid financial markets prevented Dana Gas from repaying the sukuk when it matured last October. But the company secured a lockdown agreement with bondholders and thrashed out a refinance agreement before the bond defaulted.

 

fneuhof@thenational.ae