July 18, 2018 / 1:15 PM / in a month

Investment firm Aker sees higher dividend as net asset value rises

OSLO, July 18 (Reuters) - Investment firm Aker, controlled by billionaire Kjell Inge Roekke, expects to pay higher dividends as the value of its energy-heavy portfolio rise, CEO Oevind Eriksen told Reuters on Wednesday.

Aker’s net asset value surged by over a third to 57.1 billion crowns ($7.00 billion) during the second quarter, equal to 769 crowns per share.

It was helped by a rise in oil firm Aker BP, in which it holds a 40 percent stake created through a string of transactions when oil price were low, including a merger with BP’s Norwegian assets.

“We have no plan to change our dividend policy, so that (a rise in dividend) is a mathematical consequence of our success,” Eriksen said, referring to its policy of paying out 2-4 percent of its net asset value in annual dividends.

Nor does the firm have any plan to reduce its exposure to Aker BP, which at the end of the second quarter accounted for 65 percent of Aker’s net asset value.

“We have no plans to reduce our stake in Aker BP,” Eriksen said.

He instead saw opportunities for more growth in Aker BP.

“Aker BP has a portfolio that produces approximately 160,000 barrels per day and has the potential to double in a few years.

“Aker BP doesn’t need to make more transactions, although we want to grow through further transactions. But we will show discipline and the most important thing for our shareholders is that we have a high quality portfolio,” Eriksen said.

While Aker BP only has assets on the Norwegian continental shelf, start-up Aker Energy earlier this year bought a 50-percent stake in Ghana’s ultra deepwater Tano Cape Three Points block from Hess.

“We have agreed with the authorities in Ghana to postpone the deadline for submitting a plan for development from July to the end of the year. It was a simple decision, because a postponement allows for an even more elaborate plan.

“But from our side, postponement of the deadline does not imply any delay to the expected production start. It’s still in 2021, but more realistic towards the end of the year than the start,” Eriksen said.

Ghana is Aker Energy’s main priority in Africa, but Eriksen said he would not rule out investments in other African countries.

Other companies in Aker’s portfolio include stakes in oil services firms Aker Solutions, Akastor, Kværner, Solstad Farstad and Ocean Yield .

Apart from Ocean Yield, which is also involved in shipping, Eriksen did not expect dividends from any of them in the short term.

Reporting by Ole Petter Skonnord; editing by Jason Neely

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