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Billionaire Paul Singer’s fund reportedly seeks to scupper Chevron-Noble deal

Activist investor Elliott Management Corp. run by Singer, bought stake in Noble and seeks to halt its $5b sale to Chevron; Noble operates Israel’s two biggest natural gas fields

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Paul Singer, seen at the Annual Meeting 2013 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 23, 2013. (Wikimedia Commons)
Paul Singer, seen at the Annual Meeting 2013 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 23, 2013. (Wikimedia Commons)

Activist investor Elliott Management Corp. has bought a stake in Noble Energy Inc. in a reported bid to push the oil and gas explorer to abandon its plans to sell itself to Chevron Corp.

Elliot Management, a New York-based hedge fund run by billionaire Paul Singer, believes the Chevron deal undervalues Noble Energy, Bloomberg reported on September 9, citing people familiar with the matter.

According to the sources, Elliott believes Noble can benefit more from a recovery in oil prices on a standalone basis. Once oil prices recover, Noble should then consider selling its Mediterranean assets.

In July, Chevron announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement with Texas-based Noble Energy, which operates Israel’s two biggest natural gas fields, to buy all outstanding shares in an all-stock transaction valued at $5 billion. The move was welcomed by Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz.

Illustrative: Israel’s offshore Leviathan gas platform. (Albatross)

The acquisition of Elliott’s stake in Noble was made public via a notice on the US Federal Trade Commission’s website. The notice did not disclose the size of the stake, but Elliott was granted early termination under the Federal Trade Commission’s Hart-Scott-Rodino Act — a requirement when an investor buys shares above a certain level and seeks to be involved in strategy or management changes.

“We believe our offer represents a fair value for the business and that the transaction will create long-term value for shareholders of both companies,” Braden Reddall, a Chevron spokesman told Bloomberg. He added that the oil and gas firm believes the transaction will still be on track to close in the fourth quarter.

A representative for Elliott declined to comment, and a representative for Noble wasn’t immediately available for comment, Bloomberg said.

Noble Energy shareholders in New York, Colorado and Delaware are trying to delay a vote on the deal, saying they have not been given full documentation.

Israel’s Energy Ministry’s Petroleum Council is expected to discuss and approve the deal in principle on September 14. The council does not publish protocols, only recommendations.

The Chevron oil and gas company has left a trail of environmental and humanitarian disaster around the world, an environmental anthropologist told a Knesset committee on Tuesday after examining 31 countries where the US conglomerate has been active.

Founded in 1977, Elliot Management Corp. is a private investment firm with some $41 billion under management as of July 1, 2020, according to its website. The activist investor has called for changes at some of the world’s largest companies, including SoftBank Group Corp., AT&T Inc. and Twitter Inc.

Its founder, Paul Singer, set up Start-Up Nation Central, a Tel Aviv-based nonprofit organization that aims to connect business and government leaders with Israeli technologies. In 2018, an affiliate company of Elliott Management acquired a stake in Israel’s largest telecom firm, Bezeq, in a bid to shake up its board of directors.

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