ADNOC mulls a public offering for its drilling business

By Dinesh Nair, Archana Narayanan, Anthony Di Paola on 4/14/2021
ADNOC drilling crew
ADNOC drilling crew

(Bloomberg) --Abu Dhabi is accelerating plans to sell shares in some oil and gas businesses as the government seeks to deepen its financial markets and diversify its sources of funding.

The state energy company, Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., is considering initial public offerings of its drilling business and a fertilizer joint venture called Fertiglobe, according to people with knowledge of the plans. The deals could raise more than $1 billion each, according to the people.

Petrostates in the Persian Gulf are trying to bolster their economies after they were hit last year by coronavirus lockdowns and the crash in oil prices. They also want to diversify from fossil fuels by using money raised from their oil assets to invest in other industries.

Deliberations on the potential listings are ongoing and no final decisions have been made. ADNOC may retain the businesses or look at other ways of monetizing them, the people said.

Both ADNOC Drilling and Fertiglobe, a venture with Amsterdam-based OCI NV, are based in Abu Dhabi. OCI confirmed that it and ADNOC are considering an IPO of Fertiglobe. ADNOC declined to comment.

In recent years, international and local funds have invested more than $20 billion in ADNOC assets such as pipelines and property. Last June, the company sold leasing rights over natural-gas pipelines to a consortium including Global Infrastructure Partners and Brookfield Asset Management Inc., in a deal worth $10.1 billion.

Still, its sole IPO to date was the listing of its fuel-retailing unit, Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. for Distribution PJSC, in 2017.

Oil-rich Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and holds most of the country’s crude deposits. The UAE is the third biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, behind Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Neighboring Saudi Arabia -- the world’s biggest oil exporter -- has a similar strategy. It raised almost $30 billion from the IPO of state energy firm Saudi Aramco in late 2019. Last week, Aramco announced it was selling leasing rights in pipelines for $12.4 billion to a consortium led by U.S. investor EIG Global Energy Partners LLC.

Reuters earlier reported the potential ADNOC IPOs.

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