COPENHAGEN/LONDON Talks between shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk (MAERSKb.CO) and DONG Energy (DENERG.CO) to merge their oil and gas business have stalled after the two Danish firms could not agree on a price, industry and banking sources said on Wednesday.
The breakdown in talks aimed at creating a joint company worth more than $10 billion may open the door for other bids for DONG’s operations, which it is spinning off as it moves away from fossil fuels to focus on offshore wind, the sources said.
Several private equity funds, including EIG Global Energy Partners, have shown interest in DONG, according to banking sources.
Maersk entered talks with DONG in November after announcing plans to merge or spin off its energy assets as part of a major restructuring which will shift the company’s focus to its transport and logistics businesses.
This was the second merger attempt of the two businesses in recent years, the sources said.
Maersk, DONG and EIG were not immediately available to comment.
Bringing together the two Danish companies’ oil and gas divisions was seen by many in the industry as a natural fit, creating a company focused on the UK and Norwegian North Sea.
But they were unable to agree on the valuation of their assets and the terms of the merger, several sources close to the talks said.
The negotiations were unlikely to resume “any time soon,” according to one source.
Deal making in the North Sea has slowed down in the past few years partly as a result of a global oil price slump and a sharp rise in the number of assets offered for sale in the ageing basin. Companies such as Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), ConocoPhillips (COP.N) and French utility Engie (ENGIE.PA) are seeking to sell their North Sea operations.
DONG produced 89,000 barrels of oil and gas per day in 2016, down from 115,000 barrels daily last year. Its main producing assets include the Ormen Lange, Syd Arne and Laggan-Tormore fields.
Maersk Oil produced an average of 295,000 barrels of oil equivalent in the first nine months of 2016. It suffered a major blow when Qatar chose not to extend its 25-year license to operate the giant Al Shaheen field and award it from 2017 to Total (TOTF.PA).
(Additional reporting by Arno Schuetze in Frankfurt; Editing by Jane Merriman)