Mexico to cancel February auctions for oil and gas blocks

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office Dec. 1, replacing Enrique Pena Nieto. (File/AFP)
Updated 09 December 2018
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Mexico to cancel February auctions for oil and gas blocks

  • Two bidding rounds would be canceled, including those for 37 onshore blocks and 9 unconventional and conventional areas, including shale resources
  • Lopez Obrador has sharply criticized the landmark energy opening enacted by his predecessor, President Enrique Pena Nieto, whose government planned the February auctions

MEXICO CITY: Mexico’s energy secretary Rocio Nahle said on Saturday that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s newly installed administration would cancel two February bidding rounds for oil and gas blocks, including Mexico’s first shale areas on offer.
Lopez Obrador, who took office on Dec. 1, has sharply criticized the landmark energy opening enacted by his predecessor, President Enrique Pena Nieto, whose government planned the February auctions.
The new president previously said he would suspend future oil auctions pending a review of the more than 100 contracts already awarded, but has not detailed what would become of the auctions slated for February.
Mexico’s oil industry is struggling to stem a long-running crude output decline, posing one of the biggest challenges for Lopez Obrador’s six-year term. He has yet to disclose a full plan for the sector.
Nahle told reporters at an event in the state of Chiapas on Saturday that two bidding rounds would be canceled. Together they would have auctioned off 46 oil and gas blocks, including the first shale areas in Mexico to be offered to private and foreign oil companies.
The dense rock has been successfully tapped over the past decade in the United States, including the lucrative Eagle Rock formation in Texas just across Mexico’s northern border.
Nahle did not address auctions for partnership rights for seven onshore joint venture contracts with national oil company Pemex, which are also scheduled for February.
Under Mexican law, the independent oil regulator known as the National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH) runs the auctions and supervises contracts. The commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lopez Obrador’s energy initiatives have so far focused on reducing fuel prices by building a new refinery in his home state of Tabasco, where he is expected to announce details of the project on Sunday.
He has also encouraged private oil producers already awarded contracts in Mexico to deliver barrels quickly. 


Slack primed as latest unicorn to make market debut

Updated 19 June 2019
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Slack primed as latest unicorn to make market debut

  • Slack is a cloud-based software company that markets online tools for information sharing and workflow management
  • Current customers include Nordstrom, Ford and HSBC and the company has more than 95,000 paid customers overall

NEW YORK: The 2019 parade of big new Wall Street entrants continues this week with the debut of Slack Technologies, underscoring investor hunger for new companies in spite of some high-profile stumbles.
Nearly halfway through the year, US markets are on track for one of the biggest IPO seasons ever in terms of money raised following a stream of offerings from former “unicorns,” private companies worth more than $1 billion.
Yet two of this year’s biggest names — Uber and Lyft — currently trade below their IPO price, along with Snapchat, which has lagged its initial price for most of the time since it went public in March 2017.
Still, there have also been plenty of prominent companies that have risen since their initial public offerings, including jeans company Levi’s, Tradeweb Markets, which builds electronic marketplaces, Zoom Video Communications, and mobile application and software system Pinterest.
The most dramatic jump has been in food company Beyond Meat, which now trades at more than six-fold its entering price.
“The public has a huge interest” in new companies, said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, adding that the mixed performance of the 2019 ex-unicorn class is comparable to that of the broader market.
“There aren’t a lot of other choices besides IPOs for investors seeking growth,” said Gregori Volokhine, president of Meeschaert Financial Services, who attributes the rush of funds in part to central bank policies promoting liquidity.
“There’s an excess of underinvested funds worldwide,” he said.
In terms of sheer volume, the number of IPOs in 2019 so far — 93 — is roughly equal to last year’s figure, according to Dealogic.
But the funds raised, $34.5 billion, stand 13.6 percent above last year’s sum and the highest for the comparable period since 2000, according to Dealogic data.

Direct listing
A cloud-based software company that markets online tools for information sharing and workflow management, San Francisco-based Slack parts ways from the other big companies this year by opting for a direct listing instead of an IPO.
This approach, which was also employed by Spotify last year, cuts down on fees to investment bankers in IPOs. Although existing shares can be sold, a direct listing does not issue new shares, averting share dilution but also forgoing the new funds raised in an IPO.
The process can also be riskier in terms of share price volatility compared with an IPO, where underwriters line up investors in advance. In a direct listing, shares are exposed more directly to the open market.
Slack chief executive and co-founder Stewart Butterfield described the company’s technologies as a “brand new category of software” that replaces email in a company.
Current customers include Nordstrom, Ford and HSBC and the company has more than 95,000 paid customers overall.
“It turns email to messages and organizes them into team, project and topic based channels instead of individual in-boxes,” Butterfield said in a June 10 earnings conference call.
“It’s a team-first approach to communication, in contrast to email’s individual first approach. It creates a rich, searchable, permanent body of information that’s widely available across an organization, even for people who just joined the team.”
 

Unprofitable three years
The company, which is expected to be valued at around $17 billion when it enters the market on Thursday, reported revenues of $134.8 million in the quarter ending April 30, up 66.7 percent from the year-ago period.
But Slack, which has been unprofitable the last three years, reported a $33.3 million loss during the period, 34 percent more than last year’s loss.
Of course, many unprofitable companies have gone public and done well in markets for years. Yet the heavy losses and murky profit outlook at Uber and Lyft have been seen as factors in their lackluster performance since going public.
But investors remain keen on growth stories following the success of Amazon, Facebook and other tech giants that have emerged in recent decades.
A key beneficiary of this desire has been Beyond Meat, which has multiplied in value many times since going public May 3 at $25 and currently is priced at $168.92. The company has been seen as a main beneficiary of the growing alternative protein market, which some analysts think could top $100 billion in the coming decade or so.
Kinahan said in general investors have wised up after the early 2000s Internet bubble but that “it’s just unnatural” for stocks like Beyond Meat to move in an unbroken straight line upwards.
“There’s a healthy bit of skepticism in the market,” he said. “However, certain companies have maybe gotten a little ahead of themselves.”