* OMV to pay $540 mln for 50 pct in upstream JV
* Will manage refinancing of $350 mln debt
* Further payments, up to $85 mln, depend on value enhancement (Recasts, writes through)
By Kirsti Knolle
VIENNA, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Austrian oil and gas group OMV has agreed on a joint venture with Malaysia’s Sapura Energy, paying $540 million for a 50 percent stake in its exploration assets, aiming to use it as a springboard for further expansion in Asia.
OMV has declared Southeast Asia a new core market in its strategy of expanding in low-cost countries outside Europe, with a particular focus on meeting demand for natural gas because of its lower CO2 emissions compared with oil.
“This acquisition is a great strategic fit for OMV,” Chief Executive Rainer Seele said in an investor call on Friday, adding that it gives the company access to a market where demand for gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) is expected to grow by 50 percent by 2030.
The deal involves Sapura Upstream being transferred to a new business to be called SEB Upstream (SUP), in which OMV will buy a 50 percent stake.
Sapura Upstream’s network and its strong relationship with Malaysia’s state energy giant Petroliam Nasional(Petronas) will also help OMV to expand in the region, Seele said.
“Petronas ... is a JV partner in all domestic assets of Sapura Upstream,” he said.
In addition to the $540 million purchase price, OMV agreed to a further payment of up to $85 million, dependent on the commercial success of an oil asset in Mexico and the Brent crude benchmark oil price, Sapura Energy said in a statement.
SUP will also have to repay a $350 million loan from Sapura Energy in cash, either through a loan from OMV or bank borrowing secured by SUP, the Malaysian company said.
Seele plans to manage refinancing of the $350 million via an intercompany loan. “As we are going to fully consolidate Sapura Upstream, it has no impact on our cash flow, no visible impact on our debt and on our gearing,” he said.
OMV has set aside 10 billion euros for acquisitions up to 2025. It has now used about 2.5 billion euros of that, having expanded this year in New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates to balance geopolitical risks it faces in countries such as Russia, Libya and Yemen.
The Austrian group plans to produce 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day in Southeast Asia by 2023, it has said previously.
Sapura’s upstream production currently stands at about 10,000 boe per day (boe/d) and will reach 60,000 boe/d after 2023, Seele said, adding that much of the output will be transported to the world’s third-largest LNG complex, majority owned and operated by Petronas.
LNG, which has become the fastest growing traded commodity, fetches higher prices in Asia than in Europe, he said. ($1 = 0.8550 euros) (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle Editing by David Goodman)