A former Centrica chief executive is believed to be in pole position to snap up one of the largest operators in the North Sea.
Sam Laidlaw’s investment vehicle, Neptune Oil & Gas, is in advanced talks to acquire Engie’s controlling stake in the $4bn-valued (£3.2bn) production arm.
Engie, the French state utility formerly named GDF Suez, has hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs to handle the sale, the Sunday Times first reported.
City A.M. understands Neptune is in talks with Engie, but is also considering a number of other assets.
The China Investment Corporation (CIC), which owns the remaining 30 per cent of the North Sea operator, will have a say on who its new partner is.
Earlier this year, CIC was believed to have vetoed a merger between the business and Centrica.
Neptune was founded in June last year by private equity groups Carlyle and CVC Capital Partners.
Based in London, the investment vehicle launched with the aim of targeting up to $5bn of acquisitions.
The vehicle was launched to “identify large-scale investment opportunities arising in the North Sea, North Africa and South East Asia”.
Engie and Neptune have been asked for comment.
The Sunday Times reported that a deal could be announced before Christmas.