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Fracker Third Energy courts rivals for cash

By Mark Kleinman, City Editor
A British shale gas company owned by Barclays is sounding out rivals about pumping cash into the business as it delays fracking at a controversial site in Yorkshire until later in the year.
Sky News has learnt that Third Energy, which is awaiting the outcome of a review ordered by the Government into its financial strength, has in recent weeks approached a number of other industry players about a potential deal.
The development underlines Third Energy's need for new investment as Barclays, which effectively outsourced the management of its shareholding in 2015, declines to inject more capital into the company.The British bank has previously indicated that it will sell its stake in the business, although such a deal is unlikely until after the results of fracking at its Kirby Misperton site are clear.Sources said on Monday that several other specialists in the hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - sector had been asked by Lazard, the investment bank, to consider offers to invest in Third Energy.An outright takeover of the business or merger is also thought to be being suggested as an alternative option by Lazard to prospective investors.Reports last year suggested that Third Energy would examine a €500m stock market listing, although this is now considered by industry bankers to be off the agenda.Like Cuadrilla and Igas Energy, Third Energy hopes to cash in on an increasingly permissive political climate towards fracking on the UK mainland.In the Conservative Party's general election manifesto last year, Theresa May pledged to support the development of the UK's shale gas sector.However, protests over its presence at the Yorkshire site that it believes contains significant gas reserves have clouded Third Energy's progress.
It has also faced questions over repeated delays to the filing of its accounts, prompting Greg Clark, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, to seek guarantees of its financial resilience.Barclays is the majority shareholder in Third Energy, with the investment managed for it by Global Natural Resources Investments, a former subsidiary of the bank.Third Energy's chairman is Keith Cochrane, who was the interim chief executive of Carillion for six months before it collapsed into liquidation in January.Its other board members include Lord Gadhia, a Conservative peer.The company recently said it would release some of the equipment required at Kirby Misperton until the outcome of the resilience test was clear.It added that it was "committed to working with our local community and have taken guidance from Flamingo Land, local farmers and the North Yorkshire Police that it would be helpful for the local community and economy to avoid operations during the school holidays and harvest season".Mr Clark also indicated that Third Energy had met the technical requirements necessary to enable it to frack at the site.
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In a statement issued to Sky News, a spokeswoman for Third Energy said: "Third Energy has all the necessary funding in place for its current operations, both onshore and offshore."As is normal in natural resources, including oil and gas, when moving into the development stage companies look at different options for funding known developments, future exploration and also further opportunities."
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