Linc Energy dumps ASX for Singapore
Eighteen months after Dart Energy pulled plans for a Singapore listing and six months after it abandoned a London listing, Linc Energy has decided to test the waters offshore by shifting from the ASX to the Singapore exchange.
The move follows a prolonged downswing in the market valuations of some companies working in the unconventional energy sector, such as coal seam gas hopefuls, in the wake of rising opposition in some parts of the community to the sector's ambitions.
For Linc, the sour sentiment has been a double whammy given the criticism of underground coal gasification, which it has been promoting, along with its large demand for funds to feed its growth ambitions.
Another underground gasification hopeful, Cougar Energy, was fined for contamination in Queensland, with Linc now looking at using the technology in South Australia.
Linc said Singapore was an emerging regional oil and gas hub, and listing there would help expand its investor base and improve access to international investors.
That may be all the more important following the disclosure of the planned move on Wednesday, which wiped 10.5 per cent off its worth as the shares fell 14.8¢ to $1.257 - a far cry from the highs above $4.50 a few years ago.
The shares were suspended in late trading so it could complete an acquisition of some coal assets.
Linc chief executive Peter Bond said he looked at shifting the company's listing to the US, but investors there were only interested in its oil and gas of its shale assets, so it would have been forced to split the company in two.
"If I went into a private equity play and carved the assets up, it's worth $6 a share, in round figures," Mr Bond said of Linc shares. "It bemuses me the share price is so far off the mark.
"I'm looking for a catalyst. We were close to signing to go to the NYSE. Singapore is looking to be an oil and gas hub, and they don't mind single entrepreneurs with large holdings - and you can trade within our time zone."
There is only one oil and gas explorer listed in Singapore - Kris Energy, which listed in July and has a market worth of $S1.2 billion. However, if Linc succeeds in building an investor base, others may follow its lead. If it does not work, Linc may revert to splitting its assets and seeking a US listing.
With one of the largest oil refining centres, Singapore has emerged as a regional hub in the oil and gas exploration sector, with a number of operators setting up shop over the past few years.
Valuations across the sector have been pressured, with share prices of the likes of Dart Energy, Molopo and Metgasco all dumped due to regulatory issues in the coal seam gas exploration sector.