More Canadian Energy Takeovers Ahead

07/25/2012 9:30 am EST

Focus: GLOBAL

Talisman Energy is one company that analysts believe could benefit from the proposed $15.1 billion deal by Cnooc to buy Nexen, writes Shirley Won of The Globe and Mail.

A proposed $15.1 billion deal by China's state-backed oil company to buy Nexen (Toronto: NXY) could set the stage for more takeovers in the Canadian energy patch.

That transaction has a "positive read-through for Talisman Energy," said Canaccord Genuity analyst Phil Skolnick, who upgraded the oil and gas producer to a "buy" rating on Tuesday.

"We believe it is a positive indicator of Talisman's ability to be acquired given its mixture of international assets (55% of production outside of North America)," he wrote in a report.

Even though Talisman (Toronto: TLM) does not have Nexen's long-life oil sands assets, its Southeast Asian natural gas projects could motivate a potential buyer, given that it offers production growth and the potential for rising prices, he said. Talisman focuses on higher-priced liquids-rich gas in that region.

Both Cnooc's (CEO) Nexen deal and Talisman's plans to sell 49% of its North Sea business for $1.5 billion to Sinopec (SHI) were announced on Monday.

In addition to selling part of its North Seas business, Talisman has said it could also "potentially monetize longer-dated assets that won't cash flow for years in order to sharpen the focus on the company," Skolnick wrote. "We believe such divestiture talks naturally open up the door for discussions around an outright sale."

The deal with China-based Sinopec "could be a stepping stone," and make Talisman more acquirable because it leaves it with increased exposure to more desirable growth assets in Colombia, North America, and Southeast Asia, and decreased exposure to the volatile North Sea, he noted.

"If it weren't for the Nexen acquisition, we'd be less excited about what the North Sea sales means to Talisman," Skolnick said. "The risk to this thesis is that timing is everything, and falling oil prices can make it more of a net cash user, which would provide some negative sentiment on the stock."

The analyst also raised his one-year target on Talisman by 7% to $15 a share based on re-rating associated with the Nexen deal.

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