Lord Browne poised for return to the City

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FORMER BP chief executive Lord Browne is poised for a return to the City next month when private equity firm Riverstone Holdings floats an energy investment vehicle.

The flotation of Riverstone Energy Limited (REL) is expected to raise between £670 million and £1.5 billion, of which £550m has already been committed by New York-based Riverstone and five “cornerstone” investors, including hedge fund billionaire Louis Bacon.

Browne has been a partner at Riverstone since 2007, when he left BP after a 41-year career at the oil giant. He is also chairman of Riverstone-backed Cuadrilla Resources, which this week completed its exploratory drilling programme in West Sussex, where its activities became the focus of anti-fracking protests.

Shares in REL are expected to start trading on 29 October and the firm will be chaired by former BG Group chairman Sir Robert Wilson. Browne, who is also joint head of Riverstone’s renewable energy funds, will sit on the board alongside Jim Hackett, the ex-boss of Anadarko Petroleum, which was a partner in BP’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, where 11 people were killed in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Wilson, who retired from gas producer BG last year, said: “REL presents a unique opportunity for public market investors to gain exposure to the energy sector via Riverstone’s highly experienced team.

“This is the first time that Riverstone’s single-industry focus, depth of experience and strong track record has been accessible to public market investors, creating a compelling and attractive investment proposition.”

Riverstone was founded in 2000 by former Goldman Sachs bankers Pierre Lapeyre and David Leuschen, who will also sit on the board of REL. Since its formation, the firm has raised about $25bn (£15.7bn) across seven private investment funds.

Wilson said: “REL will fill an important space in the London market, enabling investors to access the investment gap between the mature majors and the smaller exploration and production players”.