Royal Dutch Shell’s announcement this morning that it is selling its holding in six oil and gas fields in the Gulf of Mexico is by no means a signal that the Anglo-Dutch major is about to reduce its presence in the area. The company is doing what most of its peers have been doing - selling non-core assets and focusing on higher-quality ones.
At the same time, most of the supermajors are also increasing their capital expenditure budgets in an attempt to increase production growth – one of the themes to come out of the third quarter reporting season that just ended which saw Exxon and Shell report sharply higher profits, fuelled by strong crude prices and better refining margins.
The battle for Dynegy’s future is getting more intense by the day.
Dynegy’s chief executive, Bruce Williamson, and the board are urging shareholders to accept a proposal to sell the independent power producer to the Blackstone Group for $4.7bn. They say they have tried for years to find a buyer for the company, which faces a bleak future given low and dropping US natural gas prices and a heavy debt load it has been selling assets for years to service. Blackstone has the deep pockets to take the company off the restructuring wheel and put it on stable ground.
On Thursday, two separate proxy research firms gave opposing recommendations to shareholders. Egan-Jones Ratings said the company’s financial position meant it would be risky for Dynegy to remain a standalone company. But Glass Lewis said it would oppose the deal because it was insufficient and based on too narrow an interpretation of the company’s finances. They are not the first to weigh in.