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[TEL AVIV] Noble Energy Inc is working with Barclays Plc on the sale of a 7.5 per cent stake in the offshore Tamar natural gas field, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The company and its advisers - which include another unidentified bank - are approaching institutional investors for the sale, which may be worth between US$1 billion and US$1.1 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified as the talks aren't public.
Noble is seeking to convert the stake into a special-purpose company and raise debt totaling about 50 per cent to 60 per cent of its value, one of the people said. This would be paid to shareholders as a dividend, the person said.
At these levels, the entire Tamar field is being valued as high as US$14.7 billion, or an increase of 20 per cent from a previous valuation. Noble sold a 3.5 per cent working interest in Tamar to Harel Insurance Co Ltd last year for US$431 million, valuing the field at US$12.3 billion.
Noble still owns 32.5 per cent of the field, which has supplied the vast majority of Israel's natural gas since 2013. Under an agreement with the government, the company must reduce its stake to 25 per cent to promote competition in the industry.
Other major shareholders include billionaire Yitzchak Teshuva's Delek Group Ltd which must sell its entire stake - 31.25 per cent - as part of the regulatory framework. The company is considering options including an initial public offering in Europe or the US.
Isramco Negev 2 LP holds 28.75 per cent.
Spokesmen for Noble and Barclays declined to comment.