Meet the secret weapon in a $7.1 billion Middle East oil money bid for Santos

John Ellice-Flint. Image: Energy Blue

John Ellice-­Flint was the CEO of Santos from December 2000 to June 2008. During that time the energy producer added $8 billion of value to the business.

Now Ellice-­Flint is the figurehead in a bid to takeover Santos, delist from the ASX and run it as a private group.

The takeover is by Scepter Partners, a private investment vehicle which includes members of royal families from oil rich countries in the Middle East, ultra‐high‐net­‐worth industrialists and sovereign wealth funds.

These are people who know the energy business.

If the $7.1 billion takeover works, Ellice-­Flint, a former petroleum geologist, becomes executive chairman of a privatised Santos.

“Our vision is to build Santos into an Asian Oil & Gas leader, based in South Australia, harnessing the skills and experience of the Santos workforce,” Ellice‐Flint said after the $6.88 cash per share bid was announced.

Santos shares rose more than 16% today to $6.32 on news of the bid.

Santos isn’t impressed. It says: “The proposal is considered to be opportunistic in nature and does not reflect the fair underlying asset value of the company.”

Scepter says Ellice-Flint is widely regarded as one Australia’s foremost oil and gas executives and has a strong network in Australia and across Asia.

Scepter was founded by financier Rayo Withanage, who founded the the BMB group, an asset management platform for ruling families and Forbes 500 investors, to acquire large assets with a focus in natural resources, infrastructure, real estate and media and telecommunications.

Its global merchant banking activities are led by investment banking veteran Anthony J. Steains, the former Head of Blackstone Advisory Partners Asia.

Scepter’s plan is to build and grow a significant oil and gas business.

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