Neptune Energy is moving ahead with plans for a sale after talks about a takeover by Italian energy group Eni (MI: ENI) cooled, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The oil and gas explorer, which is backed by private equity firms Carlyle Group Inc. and CVC Capital Partners, is working with advisers as it speaks to potential buyers, according to the people. Other energy companies are among suitors considering possible bids, the people said.
Eni’s interest in a deal has waned in recent weeks after disagreements over price, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. A sale could value Neptune at more than $5 billion, Bloomberg News reported in November.
Neptune’s deliberations are ongoing, and there’s no certainty they will result in a transaction, the people said. Representatives for Carlyle and Neptune declined to comment. A spokesperson for CVC didn’t immediately comment, while a representative for Eni couldn’t be reached.
Dealmaking in the oil and gas sector is accelerating as global governments prioritize security of supply and the biggest players and investors seek to deploy capital.
To be sure, many of the mergers and acquisitions have targeted more environmentally-friendly sources of energy and a takeover of Neptune by Eni would have represented a rare upstream acquisition by a European major amid this broader industry shift to renewables.
Neptune was formed in 2015 by former Centrica Plc boss Sam Laidlaw. Its owners have been working with advisers including Rothschild & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to explore options for its business, including a possible sale.