Wood's Group dividend pledge after GE deal


UK oil and gas services firm Wood's Group has promised to deliver at least £1bn to shareholders today after sealing a major deal with General Electric.

Oil worker

Offload: Wood's production arm generates 47% of its revenues.

The sale of Wood Group's well support arm, which makes electric submersible pumps used to maximise oil production, will raise $2.8bn, with more than half of the proceeds set to go to shareholders.

Aberdeen-based Wood, which is listed in the FTSE 250 Index, will now focus on its engineering and production and gas turbine services divisions.

It said General Electric possessed the scale and reach to ensure the Houston-based Well Support business continued its international growth.

Wood Group chief executive Allister Langlands said: 'The significant investment programme in Well Support over the years and the expertise and dedication of all our people is reflected in the price achieved.'

Wood shares opened 13% higher today. Following the disposal, which is subject to regulatory and shareholder clearance, Wood said it will return cash of not less than $1.7bn to its shareholders.

It has also pledged to continue its growth strategy of geographic expansion in its core areas. This follows a deal in December to buy Aberdeen-based rival PSN in an agreement worth $955m.

Wood's production arm generates 47% of its revenues from the UK North Sea, but the addition of PSN in areas such as North America, the Caspian and Russia will reduce its dependence on the UK and offer higher margin work.

The group currently employs more than 29,000 people and operates in 50 countries. The well support division has around 3,800 staff worldwide.

GE said demand for products and services that enhance oil recovery should grow significantly due to an expected decline in production from existing wells and the increasing complexity of developing new reserves.

It added that the use of electric submersible pumps (ESPs) was one of the most effective methods of enhancing production.

'ESPs will be paramount in helping oil producers meet the rising global demand for hydrocarbons, as maturing fields are expected to account for 70% of global oil production output by 2012,' GE said.