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Oil and gas key sector in £1.4bn Simmons deals

THE Scottish arm of Simmons advised on deals worth $2.3 billion (£1.4bn) in 2012 as the investment banking firm cashed in on buoyant activity in oil and gas markets such as the North Sea.

The Simmons & Co team in Aberdeen played a prominent role in the surge in mergers and acquisitions activity that swept the area as producers and services firms looked to capitalise on booming demand for oil and gas.

Collectively, the 14 deals the office advised on were worth more than double the total value of transactions it worked on in the previous year.

With eight of the companies involved in the transactions agreed in 2012 based in Aberdeen and/or having significant North Sea interests, the deal flow reflects strong interest in the UK industry.

Simmons & Co acted in the sale of four Aberdeen-based technology firms to American buyers.

The deals included the sale of Red Spider Technology and Petrowell to services giants Halliburton and Weatherford respectively.

The deals reflect the global relevance of the knowledge and experience firms have gained grappling with the challenges involved in operating in the stormy waters off Scotland.

The activity is another manifestation of the twin track economy that has developed in Scotland, While Aberdeen is booming on the back of buoyant oil and gas markets activity in other areas has remained muted.

Corporate financiers have predicted deal activity will continue to be limited in the central belt this year.

But conditions are in place for sustained strong activity in Aberdeen and the North Sea.

Colin Welsh, chief executive of Simmons & Co, said: "The industry is undergoing an incredible amount of change and growth."

Earlier this month Wood Mackenzie predicted companies would invest more than $60bn (£37.8bn) in the North Sea between 2012 and 2015.

The Edinburgh-based energy consultancy said the total value of UK deals hit a 10-year high of $10bn in 2012. Buyers included organisations from China, the Middle East, the US and the UK.

Luke Parker, manager of the M&A service at Wood Mackenzie, said there are plenty of potential buyers for UK assets at the right price.

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