Exclusive: Shell names Lazard to advise on $30 billion asset sales

Fri Mar 11, 2016 6:33am EST
 
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By Freya Berry and Ron Bousso

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell has appointed investment bank Lazard to advise it on a $30 billion asset sale program following its acquisition of BG Group last month, several banking and industry sources said on Friday.

The Anglo-Dutch company has also picked Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley to work on proposed sales of assets, according to the sources, noting that more banks could yet be added to the line-up.

A Shell spokesman confirmed Lazard has been brought in under a new mandate to advise its merger and acquisition team on the company's divestment strategy. It also confirmed BofA Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley have been appointed to work on some assets sales.

Lazard declined to comment. Morgan Stanley and BofA Merrill Lynch were not immediately available to comment.Shell has announced plans to sell $30 billion worth of assets between 2016 and 2018 in order to finance the BG deal as well as maintain its dividend following a sharp drop in oil prices since mid-2014.

"We don't have a broker relationship with any one bank. We choose banks on project-by-project basis, on the basis of price and suitability. We expect several banks to bid for and get transaction mandates for our $30 billion asset-sale program," the Shell spokesman said.

In a surprise move late last year, Shell's board turned to Lazard for an independent review of the $50 billion BG acquisition as it sought to allay shareholders' concerns over its merits in the face of plummeting oil prices.

Lazard's latest role is a new mandate for the purely advisory player which has no lending capacity and has kept a relatively low profile in the oil and gas sector.

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A passenger plane flies over a Shell logo at a petrol station in west London, in this January 29, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Files