Shell to sell its Canadian Natural Resources stake for $3.3 billion

By Kelly Gilblom on 5/8/2018

LONDON (Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to sell out of oil-sands producer Canadian Natural Resources.

The Anglo-Dutch company’s Shell Gas unit will divest all its shares in Canadian Natural for total pretax proceeds of $3.3 billion, The Hague-based Shell said Monday. The sale serves the dual purpose of shedding one of its dirtiest assets, while reducing debt accumulated after the $50 billion purchase of BG Group.

The shares are being offered at $34.10 apiece, according to a person familiar with the matter. That’s a 2.9% discount to Canadian Natural’s close on Monday in New York.

Shell had accounted for the money from the sale in its divestment program when the deal was originally announced last year and doesn’t bring the company closer to its $30 billion target. At the end of the first quarter, Shell had completed $26 billion of that program.

Beyond short-term debt reduction, the sale also has longer-term benefits. CEO Ben van Beurden has said he’s keen to demonstrate how an oil major can navigate a world focused on cutting emissions. He has repositioned Shell to focus on cleaner natural gas, shedding carbon-intensive assets such as oil sands.

The Canadian Natural sale was initially flagged last year, when oil prices were about $20/bbl lower. Shell said at the time it would sell almost all its production assets in Canada’s oil sands in a $7.25 billion deal. As part of that accord, Canadian Natural agreed to issue about C$4 billion ($3.1 billion) of its shares to Shell in payment for various assets.

Shell Gas has entered into an underwriting agreement with Goldman Sachs & Co., RBC Capital Markets, Scotiabank and TD Securities for the sale of the stake. Canadian Natural shares closed at $35.11 in New York on Monday.

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