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The Wall Street Journal: Standard Chartered to Buy Oil Firm

By BENOIT FAUCON and MARGOT PATRICK
September 6, 2007

LONDON — Standard Chartered PLC agreed to buy London-based oil- and gas-finance boutique Harrison Lovegrove & Co. for an undisclosed amount, as the bank moves aggressively into the lucrative mergers-and-acquisitions boom in the oil and gas industry.

Harrison Lovegrove, with operations in London, Moscow, Kuala Lumpur, Perth, Calgary, Houston and Washington, has advised on oil and gas transactions totaling around $20 billion, Standard Chartered said. Its client list includes Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP PLC’s TNK-BP Russian venture, Gaz de France and BHP Billiton, according to its Web site.

Its gross assets at Dec. 31 were around $23 million.

People familiar with the matter said that the initial purchase price is less than $100 million.

Standard Chartered said the purchase adds to its existing oil- and gas-advisory business, giving “significantly greater value to clients in a global sector.”

“We expect to generate significant business growth with the combined business, further adding to an already successful track record in the sector,” said V. Shankar, group head of client relationships at Standard Chartered.

The purchase comes as large oil and gas international companies are increasingly reshuffling their portfolios as rising oil prices drive costs in mature oil regions or smaller refineries, presenting advisory opportunities for banks and boutiques specializing in the sector.

Last month, Shell agreed to sell French refineries and a stake in a Norway oil and gas project for about $2 billion. The announcement came after the Anglo-Dutch oil major, along with Exxon Mobil Corp. unit Esso decided in June to put up for sale a string of assets in the U.K. North Sea.

Write to Benoit Faucon at [email protected] and Margot Patrick at [email protected]

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