Cobalt Energy Files for $1.15 Billion IPO

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Independent oil exploration company Cobalt International Energy Inc became the latest private equity-owned company to seek to raise money in an initial public offering, according to a regulatory filing on Friday.

Houston-based Cobalt International, which has ownership stakes in deepwater prospects in the Gulf of Mexico and the West African countries of Angola and Gabon, plans to raise as much as $1.15 billion in an IPO, according to a prospectus filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Cobalt International has development agreements with French oil concern Total SA (TOTF.PA) and Angola’s national oil company, Sonangol, and plans to use the IPO’s net proceeds to fund its drilling and exploration program through 2011.

While the company does not yet have revenue, it said anticipates beginning commercial production from its Gulf of Mexico properties between 2012 and 2014, and from its West African properties between 2014 and 2016.

Cobalt International was founded in 2005 by a group of oil industry executives and private equity investors. Its chief executive, Joseph Bryan, had previously been chief operating officer of oil and gas exploration company Unocal Corp.

The company was formed by funds affiliated with Goldman Sachs & Co (GS.N), and private equity firms Riverstone Holdings LLC and The Carlyle Group [CYL.UL].

In recent weeks, a number of companies held by private equity companies have either gone public, such as healthcare software company Emdeon Inc (EM.N) or filed to do so, such as discount retailer Dollar General Corp, backed by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co [KKR.UL].

Private equity firms are seeking to take advantage of better stock markets to unload their portfolio companies.

The filing did not indicate when the Cobalt International IPO may take place, but it said the company plans to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “CIE.”

The IPO’s underwriters are Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs & Co and J.P. Morgan.

By Phil Wahba
(Editing by Steve Orlofsky)