LONDON, June 18 (Reuters) - Newly-listed Lekoil has agreed to buy a 6.5 percent stake in an oil field off the coast of Nigeria for $30 million amid signs of growing investor appetite for its plan to back Nigerian assets, the company said on Tuesday.
Nigeria’s oil industry has historically been dominated by oil majors such as Shell, but in recent years political pressure for indigenous firms to operate fields has opened up opportunities for smaller companies.
Lekoil, which has a $100 million market capitalisation and raised $50 million from its listing on London’s junior AIM market last month, said it was confident in its ability to fund deals given recent discussions.
“Our story seems to resonate with the market very well, so a lot of people have come to us offering capital,” chief executive Lekan Akinyanmi said.
The CEO, whose 21.4 percent stake in the company makes him the biggest shareholder ahead of blue-chip investor BlackRock with 10.6 percent, added that Lekoil is evaluating several opportunities.
“We’re hearing a lot of rumblings,” he said when asked about divestments by big companies. “There are a lot of things coming to the market, but we’re being very careful to buy the more profitable ones.”
The company is one of a number of London-listed oil businesses seeking stakes in Nigeria’s oil fields, alongside Afren, Heritage Oil, Eland and Sirius Petroleum.
Lekoil, which already has a stake in a nearby field, is buying 6.5 percent of oil mining lease 113 from Norway’s Panoro Energy. Production is expected to start in 2015.
Its partners will include oil major Chevron, which announced on Tuesday that it is selling three of its oil blocks in the Niger Delta.