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Afren founder looks to China for financial rescue

06th March 2015

Ethelbert Cooper, the founder of beleaguered Nigeria-focussed explorer Afren, has said the company will change its capital structure to suit new Chinese investors, according to the Financial Times

Ethelbert Cooper, the founder of beleaguered Nigeria-focussed explorer Afren, has said the company will change its capital structure to suit new Chinese investors, according to the Financial Times
Afren is being circled by a variety of potential investment partners: Image Source: Afren plc

"With a different strategy and reinvigorated management there is a chance to pull the phoenix from the ashes. So I am leading an effort to reinvent the company as a new China Africa platform," said Cooper to the Financial Times.

Cooper did not name the new Chinese investors but explained that they would bring in substantial capital in the form of equity, diluting existing shareholders stake.

This would create the first Africa-focussed Chinese oil and gas explorer listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Afren defaulted on USD 15m of 2016 bond interest on Wednesday in order to retain company liquidity.

It said in January that it required at least GBP 200m in new equity to rebalance its battered accounts.

On 1 March, The Sunday Times reported that Fosun, the Chinese conglomerate controlled by the tycoon Guo Guangchang, has backed a USD 500m bid led by the Afren co-founder Bert Cooper.

Local Nigerian oil and gas companies Seplat, Lekoil and Oando are also reportly interested in takeover bids with the London-listed player.

Sources within the industry believe the company will be bailed out by investment from its existing bondholders. 

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