Israel's Delek Mulls London Listing for Major Gas Holdings

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Delek Drilling LP may create a separate company from its holdings in major Israeli and Cypriot natural gas fields and then list shares in the new business on the London Stock Exchange.

The new company would hold stakes in Leviathan, Israel’s largest gas deposit, and Aphrodite, a reservoir in nearby Cyprus, Delek said in an emailed statement. The Israeli energy explorer is seeking to combine supplies from both fields and sell them to a liquefied natural gas plant in Egypt.

“If they succeed in the spinoff and the sale on the London Stock Exchange and bring in new investors, that will be a positive development for the value of the shares, a positive for both the shareholders and Delek Group,” said Noam Pincu, an analyst at Psagot Investment House Ltd., who covers the companies. Delek Group Ltd., the parent of Delek Drilling, had tried to sell shares in London in 2014 but was unsuccessful, he said.

Delek Group, controlled by billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva, wants to expand its shareholder base outside Israel and boost trading volume. Delek Drilling shares are up 23 percent this year but still 42 percent from their five-year peak, in spite of large export contracts with Egypt and Jordan that the company signed over the period.

“This is a strategic step that will maximize the underlying value of the Leviathan and help realize the vision of becoming a significant global oil and gas company,” Chief Executive Officer Yossi Abu said in the statement.

Delek Drilling holds the Leviathan, Tamar and Aphrodite reservoirs together with Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. To satisfy Israeli regulators, its parent Delek Group must shed a holding in the Tamar field, Pincu said.

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