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UPDATE - Aminex strikes deal to bring in ‘company builders’ Bhattacherjee and Thompson

Jay Bhattacherjee was a key figure in the early days of Morocco focused explorer Longreach Oil & Gas, while Philip Thompson was a founding director of San Leon Energy.



Aminex (LON:AEX) has unveiled a new acquisition that brings in new management, a producing asset and potential for an injection of cash.

It is acquiring privately owned Canyon Oil and Gas.

Canyon co-founders Jay Bhattacherjee and Philip Thompson will respectively become chief executive and chief operating officer of the London PLC. Two other members of the Canyon team will also join Aminex.

Aminex’s stand-in executive chairman Brian Hall, himself a shareholder and non-executive director of Canyon, is expected to remain with the company as non-executive chairman.

The new executives are described by Aminex as ‘company builders’ and they may be familiar to investors from their previous roles.

Bhattacherjee was a key figure in the early days of Morocco focused explorer Longreach Oil & Gas (CVE:LOI), while Thompson was a founding director of San Leon Energy (LON:SLE).

Canyon owns an interest in the Valeni field in Moldova, which currently has one producing well. The recently formed private company is valued at US$2mln, including ‘receivables’ for already sold oil and cash.

The oil and gas junior has been pursuing a farm-out deal for its flagship gas discovery in Tanzania for some time and East Africa is expected to remain a core-focus for the company.

"I am delighted to welcome Jay, Philip and their team to Aminex. They are experienced oil and gas professionals with successful records as company builders,” Hall said in a stock market statement.

“I am confident that they and their colleagues will bring a dynamism to the company which will help to create value from our Tanzanian assets, where we have had successful discoveries at Kiliwani North and Ntorya and are looking forward to commercialisation."

Bhattacherjee added: “We consider Aminex to have a world class portfolio of development and exploration assets in an exciting region of Africa.

“Our team has a record of building value in such situations and we foresee significant upside for Aminex's shareholders with the commercialisation of existing discoveries, development opportunities, progress on the company's portfolio of assets and further expansion in the region.”

In a separate statement, for its interim results for the six months to June 30, Aminex revealed a US$4.11mln loss and that it ended the period with cash of US$564,000.

Total production from the group’s US assets totalled 23,500 barrels of oil equivalent (boe), down from 49,500 boe in the corresponding period of 2012. Revenues for the period totalled US$1.46mln, down from US$2.55mln in the first six months of last year.

Finance costs totalled US$1.78mln for the six month period.

Strategically, the Tanzanian farm-out has been the key focus for the group, and it also continues to seek a sale of its US assets; yesterday it announced a deal with AIM firm Northcote Energy for the South Weslaco gas field, the smallest of its American assets.

Key issues influencing the Tanzanian farm-out are currently advancing, Aminex highlighted.

Notably negotiations over a gas sales agreement with the government is nearing a conclusion, it said, and work on a nearby pipeline - which could potentially connect the firm’s gas discovery to Tanzania’s capital Dar es Salaam - is also advancing.

"Commencement of pipe-laying in Tanzania this week is an important milestone in commercialisation of our gas discoveries at Kiliwani North and Ruvuma,” Hall said.

Dublin based stockbroker Davy welcomed the deal and the new management, saying such appointments are needed to refresh the group’s performance and progress the East African discoveries.

Meanwhile, analyst Job Langbroek said: “Progress at the operational and management level has clearly been made; however, until we see how the debt position evolves, we feel it appropriate to maintain our ‘Neutral’ rating.”

Quick facts: Aminex PLC

Price: 0.479 GBX

Market: LSE
Market Cap: £18.06 m

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