Topaz set for $2.5bn expansion

Topaz Energy and Marine, an offshore oil contractor based in Dubai, hopes a planned public offering in London will provide the funds for expansions in Brazil and West Africa.

Topaz Energy and Marine, an offshore oil contractor based in Dubai, plans to spend up to US$2.5 billion (Dh9.18bn) to expand its fleet with funds from an initial public offering (IPO) scheduled for next month.

The company, which owns 100 vessels serving shallow-water fields in the Middle East and the Caspian Sea, intends to buy 75 new ships by 2013 to enter the deepwater drilling markets off Brazil and West Africa.

"The IPO will provide Topaz with access to additional third-party capital to support the planned growth of its fleet, particularly in deepwater vessels as the search for new reserves continues to move into deeper and more distant waters," said Fazel Fazelbhoy, the company's chief executive.

Topaz yesterday announced it would apply to list on the London Stock Exchange, a week after Renaissance Services, its Omani parent company, revealed the plans in an annual report. Renaissance Services is traded on the Muscat Securities Market and holds a collection of oil and gas service firms in the region.

London has become an increasingly popular market for UAE companies to raise capital. If Topaz's bid is successful, it would join Lamprell, an oil and gas contractor based in Dubai that in 2006 became the first UAE firm to list in the British capital. Lamprell initially listed with AIM, the London Stock Exchange's junior market for smaller companies. Two years later it was admitted to the main exchange. Topaz plans to apply directly to the main market.

"For a company like that in Dubai in that particular sector, which is pretty hot at the moment, it makes sense to come to London because London has carved out this niche in natural resource shares," said Jason Karaian, the senior editor for financial services at the Economist Intelligence Unit in London.

Axiom Telecom, also based in Dubai, is said to be evaluating a listing on the London market rather than the Nasdaq Dubai to take advantage of institutional investors with a higher tolerance for risk. DP World, the Dubai Government-owned ports operator, had also planned for a secondary listing in London after a lacklustre public offering on the Nasdaq Dubai but has delayed those plans.