Buyers bide their time in $110 bln oil asset sell-off

Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:06am EST
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* Half of the assets on sale are in North America

* North Sea could prove a hard sell

* Potential buyers holding out for further price falls

* Wave of deals expected within three to six months

By Ron Bousso

LONDON, Jan 30 (Reuters) - With more than $110 billion of oil and gas assets on the block as companies big and small count the cost of the collapse in oil prices, it is now a question of who will blink first to set the M&A scramble in motion.

Energy groups with spare cash, venture capital funds and multinational and state oil companies are eyeing assets with valuations that have largely tracked the halving of the oil price to less than $50 a barrel since last June.

But with the exception of a few recent moves, including Repsol's $3 billion acquisition of Talisman Energy , buyers have largely stayed on the sidelines.

"Deals have just about dried up because you're catching a falling knife," said Simon Henry, chief financial officer at Royal Dutch Shell.   Continued...