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Eni (E) & Ithaca Energy in Talks for UK Upstream Assets Merger

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Eni SpA (E - Free Report) , a leading global energy company, and Ithaca Energy, the North Sea oil and gas operator, have entered into an exclusivity agreement signaling a potential transformational combination that could reshape the landscape of the U.K.’s upstream sector.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ithaca Energy is set to integrate substantially all of the U.K. upstream assets with Eni's business, excluding E's carbon capture, utilization and storage, and Irish sea portfolio.

This exclusivity agreement grants Ithaca Energy sole rights to negotiate with Eni for a period of four weeks. E is poised to contribute its U.K. business to the potential merger, receiving newly issued Ithaca Energy shares in return. Following the completion of the transaction, the Italian oil and gas giant is expected to hold a significant stake, ranging between 38% and 39% of the expanded issued share capital of Ithaca Energy.

According to Ithaca Energy, the potential combination would represent a value-accretive opportunity for its shareholders, supporting the delivery of its Buy, Build and Boost strategy. The company believes that the combination would “add significant scale and diversification” to its business, significantly growing pro forma production to above 100 kboe/d and creating the second-largest independent operator in the UKCS by production. Additionally, it would enhance its status as the largest independent operator by resource, holding stakes in six of the 10 largest fields.

Ithaca also said that the potential combination would enable material future growth by boosting near-term cash flows to unlock opportunities from development projects while supporting shareholder returns, as well as create a long-term strategic partnership with Eni which would become a major shareholder in the enlarged group.

Eni, boasting an asset base across key hubs, including Elgin Franklin, J-Area, Cygnus and Seagull, has established itself as a significant player in the North Sea region. Notably, Ithaca Energy is already a partner in E's Elgin Franklin and Jade fields, showcasing a history of collaboration between the two firms.

While discussions between the two entities are in advanced stages, Ithaca Energy emphasized that the finalization of the merger is subject to various factors and uncertainties, including terms and timing.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

E currently has a Zack Rank #5 (Strong Sell).

Some better-ranked stocks in the energy sector are Sunoco LP (SUN - Free Report) , Murphy USA Inc. (MUSA - Free Report) and Energy Transfer LP (ET - Free Report) . While Sunoco and Murphy USA sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) each, Energy Transfer carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Sunoco is among the biggest motor fuel distributors in the U.S. wholesale market in terms of volumes. By distributing more than 10 fuel brands via 10,000 convenience stores under long-term distribution contracts, the partnership will continue to generate stable cash flow. 

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for SUN’s 2024 earnings per share (EPS) is pegged at $4.96. The stock has witnessed upward earnings estimate revisions for 2024 and 2025 in the past seven days.

Murphy USA is a leading independent retailer of motor fuel and convenience merchandise in the United States.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for MUSA’s 2024 EPS is pegged at $26.32. The company has a Zacks Style Score of B for Growth and B for Value. It has witnessed upward earnings estimate revisions for 2024 and 2025 in the past seven days.

Energy Transfer is a publicly traded limited partnership, focused on diverse energy assets in the United States. The company’s core operations involve natural gas midstream services, transportation, storage, crude oil facilities and marketing assets.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for ET’s 2024 earnings per unit is pegged at $1.44. The company has witnessed upward earnings estimate revisions for 2024 in the past 30 days. ET’s 2024 earnings are expected to rise 32.1% year over year.

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