Vote of confidence in the North Sea as Viaro set to acquire RockRose

Vote of confidence in the North Sea as Viaro set to acquire RockRose

On Monday 6 July, RockRose Energy plc (RockRose) announced that it had reached an agreement to be acquired by Viaro Energy limited (Viaro), at a 64% premium to its closing price on Friday, valuing RockRose at £248 million. The deal has been unanimously recommended by the board, and currently has the combined support of directors and shareholders holding 36.9% of shares.

Viaro’s long term strategy includes a focus on the UK Continental shelf and the company has stated its interest in doing its part to assist the economic recovery of the North Sea, which RockRose would provide access to. The oil and gas industry has been left battered after being caught in the geopolitical oil price war between Saudi and Russia. Alongside this, travel restrictions caused by the pandemic have severely dampened demand causing oil prices to tumble to record lows in recent months. Production cost in the North Sea is relatively high compared to its counterparts in, for example, in the Middle East, hence providing a bigger blow to the region.  The takeover, therefore, provides a much-needed vote of confidence in the region.

In response to decreasing oil prices and uncertainty caused by the pandemic, RockRose cut 40% of its capital expenditure budget and has taken measures to cut expenditure by £80 million in 2020, according to its April trading update. Despite these uncertainties the company provided an overall hopeful front, with CEO, Andrew Austin stating:

 ‘Following a successful 2019, I am very pleased with the continued progress made by RockRose in the first quarter of 2020. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic combined with low oil and gas prices have created a difficult environment and this is likely to persist for some months. However, the Company continues to deliver operationally and is well-placed to face these twin challenges thanks to its strong balance sheet and to the actions taken to reduce expenditure.’

CEO of Viaro and majority shareholder of the Viaro Group, Francesco Mazzagatti, has said the following regarding the acquisition:

‘I am very pleased that the Board of RockRose has recommended our offer for RockRose. We have ambitious growth plans in the UKCS and we believe that RockRose's producing assets, its staff, its commitment to health and safety, the environment and best in class operational procedures, will be an ideal platform from which to grow our presence in the UKCS. I'm extremely pleased that RockRose's senior management team has agreed to join us as they share our vision for future growth.’

The announcement follows a particularly subdued first half of 2020, which saw pandemic related economic uncertainty impact negatively on both deal value and volume in public M&A transactions. Market Tracker will look at this in more detail in our upcoming public M&A H1 2020 trend report, to be published later this month. For previous reports on public M&A activity, see our Full Year 2019 Public M&A Trend Report and our Q1 2020 Public M&A update.

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