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ExxonMobil hires Jefferies as it weighs UK North Sea exit

© ShellBrent oil price

Exxon Mobil Corp. has hired investment bank Jefferies Financial Group Inc. as it considers options including a sale of its UK North Sea assets, according to people familiar with the matter.

The US energy giant, which has interests in nearly 40 producing oil and gas fields in UK waters, may raise at least $2 billion (£1.6bn) from the sale, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Exxon has held preliminary discussions with potential suitors ahead of a formal sale kick-off, the people said. No final decisions have been taken and Exxon may decide to retain the assets, they said.

Representatives for Exxon and Jefferies declined to comment.

An exit from the UK, where Exxon has been present for about 50 years, would follow the company’s sale of stakes in Norwegian oil and natural gas fields last month for $4.5 billion to Var Energi AS, marking its exit from production in the country. Big U.S. oil companies have been leaving the North Sea as they seek to divest non-core assets and focus efforts on their home market. Jefferies also worked with Exxon on the Norway sale.

Exxon’s U.K. offshore operations are mainly managed through a 50-50 joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell Plc. The U.S. major is responsible for about 5% of the U.K.’s oil and gas production, supplying an average of 80,000 barrels of oil and 441 million cubic feet of gas a day, according to its website.

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