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Parkmead boss plans further acquisitions

OIL and gas entrepreneur Tom Cross has signalled he will gear up Parkmead Group for more acquisitions after the North Sea-focused company unveiled its first profit under his leadership.

BACK IN THE BLACK: Tom Cross, executive chairman of Parkmead, unveiled a £3.1m profit and targeted growth.

Aberdeen-based Parkmead made £3.1 million pre-tax profit in the six months to December after losing £2.8m in the same period of the previous year.

The result provided a fillip for Mr Cross, who wants to grow Parkmead into a force to rival the success of the Dana Petroleum business he built.

Mr Cross became executive chairman of Parkmead in November 2010, shortly after Dana Petroleum was sold to Korea National Oil Corporation for £1.9 billion. He netted around £57m for his holding in Dana.

Hailing the move into profit, Mr Cross said Parkmead had reaped the rewards of its decision to buy producing assets in the North Sea.

He highlighted the increase in production which followed the acquisition of Lochard Energy in July.

This gave Parkmead a stake in the producing Athena oil field.

Mr Cross indicated he wants to do more such deals. He said: "As Parkmead progresses through 2014, the Group will continue to explore acquisitions that add further reserves and production to the Group."

Parkmead said it is in advanced discussions with lenders regarding debt facilities to increase its financial firepower and further strengthen its balance sheet.

The Aim-listed company raised £40m from investors through a share placing in February. The results may help boost Mr Cross's reputation as a deal-maker.

The £3m profit figure was stated after the company booked a £5m gain on the Lochard deal.

This allowed Parkmead to acquire assets which it valued at £19.17m for shares in the firm worth £14.7m when they were issued.

A group of rebel shareholders in Lochard had said Parkmead's all-share offer "materially" undervalued the company.

Mr Cross noted the exploration potential of the North Sea.

He said: "Parkmead will continue to invest heavily in licensing round applications as a key element in the Group's strategy to build an attractive and balanced portfolio that offers considerable exploration upside."

It is preparing applications for the forthcoming UK Licensing Round.

The company was awarded five blocks in the 27th UK round.

Parkmead made a gas find in the first half with the Pharos well, which it is evaluating. It aims to develop the Platypus gas find.

The company is working with Faroe Petroleum on a plan to develop the Perth and Lowlander fields. Parkmead has a 1.8% stake in Aberdeen-based Faroe which it valued at £4.6m at 31 December.

Production from Athena helped Parkmead grow turnover to £9.9m in the first half, from £2m last time.

In December Parkmead acquired a further 20% holding in Athena, from EWE, for around £7m. The deal has yet to complete.

Analysts at Numis Securities told clients that Parkmead made significant progress during 2013.

Last month's placing was completed at 255p per share.

Shares in Parkmead Group closed down 5p at 240p.

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