Gulf Keystone secures £170m funding for Iraq oil exploration

LONDON-listed Gulf Keystone Petroleum is to raise $275m (£170.5m) worth of funding through convertible bonds to expand its operations in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

The bonds, which mature in 2017, will pay 6.25 per cent a year, and the proceeds will primarily be used to fund the development of the oil and gas exploration company’s Shaikan block in Kurdistan, a significant commercial discovery made in August, as well as three other blocks in the region.

Todd F Kozel, chief executive of Gulf Keystone Petroleum, yesterday welcomed the placing, calling it an “important milestone” in the transition from the exploration stage to the “fully-fledged development of the world-class Shaikan discovery”.

He added: “It shows an increasing confidence of international markets in doing business in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.”

BNP Paribas is acting as sole bookrunner and lead manager on the deal, while Mirabaud Securities and Natixis are acting as co-bookrunners.

The bonds should start trading no later than 30 November. ares closed down 9.02 per cent yesterday at 209.25p.

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BEN CANNING
BNP PARIBAS

BNP Paribas has been appointed as lead bookrunner on the bond offering. Leading the transaction is Ben Canning, head of corporate finance at the investment bank. Canning joined BNP Paribas in 2007 to lead the UK and Ireland equity capital markets (ECM) franchise after working for Credit Suisse for four years in the ECM division. He has 12 years banking experience, three years in M&A and nine in ECM. Prior to working on the Gulf Keystone Petroleum bond offer, he worked on the $11bn Glencore IPO last year. He also worked with Cable & Wireless on its £230m convertible bond issue in 2010. He has worked on various rights issues, including with HSBC, CRH, Wolseley and Centrica. Back in 2005 Canning was involved with the £322m Petrofac IPO, and in 2007 he worked on the £215m Wellstream IPO. Canning is also joined by Thierry Petit, head of equity linked EMEA at BNP Paribas. Petit has worked on more than 50 transactions across Europe and Asia, and has over 11 years of corporate finance experience. He started with Lehman Brothers in 2001, and joined BNP corporate finance in the M&A division in 2004. The most recent transaction he was involved in prior to Gulf Keystone was the €250m Faurecia convertible bond issue in France last month.