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How Citic oiled the wheels of Kazakh M&A

Buying an oil-producing company in Kazakhstan is by no means a straightforward process, as Citic’s acquisition of Nations Energy makes clear. Nor is the Chinese company’s future in the country at all clearly signposted. Elliot Wilson reports.

Nations sale marks the end of an era
Saidenov: Kazakhstan faces up to the down side of rapid growth

WHEN CITIC GROUP snapped up Nations Energy of Kazakhstan for $1.9 billion in December 2006, the deal was both a coup for the Chinese conglomerate and an indication of the increasingly frenzied attempts of foreign companies to grab assets in leading energy-producing countries.

Not only had resources-to-banking-to-construction conglomerate Citic beaten all of China’s leading oil and gas majors to land the Canadian-owned oil producer – in itself an eyebrow-raising event, but more intriguingly, the Beijing-based company’s all-cash bid was not the highest offer. Nations Energy’s shareholders were approached with several higher tenders but chose Citic because it was able to stump up the cash in a matter of days.

Citic’s competitors in the chase for Nations Energy reads like a who’s who of the world’s up-and-coming oil and gas players. Press reports at the time noted the number of visits made to the Kazakh capital, Astana, by senior officials at China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). But in reality a host of foreign and domestic energy- and non-energy-related interests were lining up to buy the Canadian firm, stimulated by high oil prices, dwindling global energy reserves and the availability of an efficiently run private corporation headquartered in a leading energy-producing nation.

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