TEHRAN, Iran. The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) has begun negotiating a long-term agreement to sell crude to the Philippines, according to a statement from the firm – @AceFinanceNews

#AceFinanceNews – Jan.29: Iran in talks to restart selling crude to the Philippines …. #OPEC deal being put under pressure again…

“The National Iranian Oil Company is in talks with Philippines’ National Oil Company (PNOC) to export four million barrels per month,” the statement said.

PNOC, a member of a consortium of international companies, has already signed a non-disclosure agreement with the National Iranian South Oil Company (NISOC) for studies into two oilfields in Iran. The group, known as Pergas, comprises eleven European, Canadian and Asian corporations in addition to the Sharif University of Technology.

“Based on the deal, the consortium will have six months to hand over the result of the studies on the fields to the NISOC. Pergas may submit its proposal for the development of the fields sooner if it is ready,” Iran’s Press TV reported.

PNOC has bought Iranian crude before and is currently considering resuming purchases, according to the company’s CEO Pedro Aquino.

“The Philippines will play a constructive role in the future contract in view of Iran’s strategy to build up its #oil export figures,” he said.

Apart from importing the #oil, the Philippines aims to invest in Iran’s energy sector.

“We are also interested in investing in Iran’s liquefied gas sector to future supplement our country’s energy needs. By joining Pergas, we seek investment in Iran’s upstream sector and long-term crude purchase,” Aquino said.

The Islamic Republic managed to win an exemption from OPEC’s production cuts agreed on last November, and has risen output slightly.

According to data from the cartel, Iran exports over 500,000 barrels per day of refined products to Asian markets.

The 2015 deal between Iran and six major powers lifted the decades-long sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic. Since then, the country has been ramping up crude production to restore much of its lost market share.

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LONDON: Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco agreed a surprise 3.7 billion pound takeover of food supplier Booker on Friday, increasing its exposure to the fast growing catering sector – @AceFinanceNews

#AceFinanceNews – Jan.29: Resurgence of ‘ Every Little Helps ‘ as Tesco surprises with deal to acquire Booker Wholesalers for a mere £3.7-billion in cash and shares …

Reuters reported http://reut.rs/2jzzazG the planned cash and shares takeover that shows the supermarket chain’s renewed confidence after two years of gradual recovery under Chief Executive Dave Lewis after an accounting scandal.

The group also said it would restart paying dividends for the 2017-18 financial year, having not paid one since the second half of its 2014-15 year when it was mired in the worst crisis in its history.

Lewis joined in September 2014 when Tesco was rapidly losing market share to German discount rivals and has also had to deal with the fallout from the accounting scandal.

The former Unilever executive has simplified operations, revitalising its core grocery business in Britain, while cutting costs and selling assets including its South Korean business for $6.1 billion.

Friday’s move marked a dramatic change of gear and signals even more focus on its British business where it has a 28 percent share of the grocery market.

It’s the next evolution of our strategy…We think it’s the right time,” Lewis told reporters, adding the deal was compelling in its own right and not a reaction to a tougher competitive environment. He said the two companies had been talking for more than a year.

However, analysts said the deal could face close regulatory scrutiny, particularly because of its impact on customers at smaller convenience stores and food industry suppliers.

Lewis said that Richard Cousins, CEO of Compass, the world’s biggest catering firm, and Tesco’s senior independent director before his Jan. 3 resignation, did not support the deal.

He, for his own reasons, didn’t feel it was something he supported,” said Lewis. Cousins could not be reached for comment.

INVESTORS PLEASED

Shares in Tesco traded up 9 percent at 206p and Booker had risen 16.7 percent to 213.8p by 1550 GMT.

The deal would give Tesco a greater slice of Britain’s 85 billion pounds “out of home” food market — including cafes, restaurants and takeaways — which is growing at a greater pace than the 110 billion pounds “eat at home” market.

Investors welcomed the transaction, that will also see Booker CEO Charles Wilson join the Tesco board.

We were surprised, pleasantly,” said Richard Marwood, senior fund manager at Royal London Asset Management which is a top ten Booker shareholder.

“Wilson has been a very well respected manager at Booker…Many people would see it as being a bit of coup having him go and work in Tesco,” he said.

Tesco will gain exposure to the 120,000 independent retailers, 107,000 small businesses and 450,000 caterers Booker serves. Booker clients include chains such as Wagamama, Carluccio’s, Byron, as well as celebrity chef Rick Stein.

Booker owns about 200 cash and carry warehouses in the UK and supplies the Budgens, Londis and Family Shopper grocery chains, which are run as franchise operations.

“This merger with Booker will further enhance Tesco’s growth prospects by creating the UK’s leading food business with combined expertise in retail, wholesale, supply chain and digital,” said Lewis.

COMPETITION ISSUES?

Tesco and Booker said the deal would lead to synergies of at least 200 million pounds within three years, from procurement, distribution and central functions, and would boost earnings per share in the second full year of the deal.

Implementation costs would be about 145 million pounds. Lewis said no job losses had been identified.

However, analysts said the deal could face close regulatory scrutiny.

“Our instant reaction is that the Competition and Markets Authority will have a field day with this,” said independent retail analyst Nick Bubb, noting that Tesco owns the One Stop chain that competes with Booker’s interest in convenience store retailing.

However, Lewis and Wilson, who owns about 6 percent of Booker’s equity, disagreed, saying their legal advice had indicated a “compelling story” to gain approval.

“As a retailer and a wholesaler coming together, this is not an acquisition of stores … independent retailers get a better deal here than perhaps they do on a standalone basis,” Lewis said.

Under the terms of the deal each Booker shareholder will receive 0.861 new Tesco shares and 42.6 pence in cash.

Based on Tesco’s closing share price on Thursday of 189 pence the deal represents a value of 205.3 pence per Booker share — a premium of about 12 percent.

The deal will result in Booker shareholders owning approximately 16 percent of the combined group.

Lewis said he thought the deal would complete in late 2017 or early 2018.

Greenhill acted as lead financial adviser to Tesco while Barclays and Citi also worked on the deal as financial advisers and corporate brokers on behalf of Tesco. JPMorgan was sole adviser to Booker.

(Additional reporting by Kate Holton, Ritvik Carvalho and Pamela Barbaglia; Editing by Keith Weir)

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