£20m fund raising gives Cross’s Parkmead war chest for growth

Tom Cross is set on success at Parkmead. Picture: Donald MacLeod
Tom Cross is set on success at Parkmead. Picture: Donald MacLeod
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OIL explorer Parkmead Group has vowed to accelerate its growth in the North Sea after raising almost £20 million through a share placing and debt-for-equity swap.

The Aberdeen-based firm, headed by energy entrepreneur Tom Cross, said the extra funds would give it additional working capital as it seeks out further acquisition opportunities.

Aim-quoted Parkmead said the oversubscribed placing of 130 million shares at 12.25p each would raise just under £16m, subject to it gaining shareholder approval at a meeting in Aberdeen on 10 January.

Cross, the firm’s executive chairman, said he plans to buy 27.8 million shares – equivalent to almost 21.4 per cent of the total being issued – representing an outlay of about £3.4m.

He is also due to receive more than 27.7 million shares in exchange for £3.4m that he loaned the company in November 2011. As a result, Cross will see his stake in the group rise from 25.53 per cent to 27.19 per cent.

Other directors taking part in the share placing include Ryan Stroulger, who intends to spend £122,500 on a million shares. Stroulger, who is 25 and has been with the firm for four years, was named commercial director earlier this month, making him one of the UK’s youngest plc main board directors. Non-executives Philip Dayer and Ian Rawlinson plan to buy 408,163 shares each.

Following the debt-for-equity swap, Parkmead will still have access to £4m of loans provided by Cross, who successfully built Dana Petroleum into one of the North Sea’s most active players before its £1.87 billion sale to Korea National Oil Company last year.

Full-year results released last month showed that the purchase of stakes in North Sea gas fields and onshore oil and gas fields in the Netherlands had boosted Parkmead’s total assets by 86 per cent to £22.9m in the 12 months to the end of June. Other deals included the £12.7m all-share takeover of fellow Aberdeen company Deo Petroleum, which completed in August.

Cross said: “Parkmead has delivered significant growth in its asset base over the last year, through four acquisitions, successful drilling and the securing of a number of new licence interests.

“This important new financing will place Parkmead in a strong position, with over $32m (£19.7m) of firepower to accelerate its growth through a number of identified opportunities.”

In October, the group was awarded operating interests in 25 offshore blocks in the UK government’s 27th licensing round, and some of the fundraising proceeds will be earmarked to kick-start work in these areas, while it will also carry out more appraisals at the significant Pharos gas field in the southern North Sea.

Parkmead said it was now well placed to examine a range of potential deals, and it remains in talks with banks that are active in the exploration and production sector, “many of whom have been historic supporters of the Parkmead management team”.

The group also announced that industry veteran Colin Percival, the former geosciences manager at Dana, will today become technical director.

Percival, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the oil and gas sector, joined Parkmead last year and currently leads its exploration and technical team.

Shares in Parkmead rose 0.5p, or 3.5 per cent, to 14.75p yesterday.