Mexico-based Vista Oil & Gas is a startup but a well-heeled one that aims no less to be a heavyweight champion of the energy industry within Latin America.
Vista Oil & Gas SAB de CV was incorporated earlier this year and is trading on the Mexico Stock Exchange, where the only other energy company listed is Sempra Energy's Mexican affiliate Infraestructura Energética Nova SAB de CV (IEnova).
Within months of being founded, Vista exceeded its own expectations with a $650 million IPO, the largest for three years in the Mexican market. Now it aims to raise $1 billion, mainly from its current shareholders.
Vista's founder, Argentinian Miguel Galuccio, is a former head of Schlumberger Ltd. in Mexico, and more recently the CEO of Argentina’s state-owned Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF).
Galuccio and his management team are backed by the energy-focused private equity firm, Riverstone Holdings LLC, which also supports another Mexican startup that in 2014 became the first private oil company founded in the country following the 2013-14 reform, Sierra Oil & Gas S de RL de CV.
Sierra won block seven of the first auction of Round One of Mexico's energy reform, along with consortium partners Talos Energy LLC of the United States and Britain's Premier Oil PLC. The block produced Zama 1, the most promising well thus far discovered under the reform.
Vista has taken a different business perspective than that of Sierra. Vista’s executives “are looking for right now are acquisitions,” said Mexico City-based Luis Miguel Labardini, a partner in the consultancy Marcos y Asociados. “They've got the know-how and they've certainly got the cash to do it."
Within its overall focus of Latin America, Vista management has said it is looking for world-class assets, mainly in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia. "We want to become the leading public oil company in Latin America, one of the world's most attractive regions for the oil and gas upstream," management has said.
The claim suggests a trend that Mexico’s reform is rapidly developing a regional cluster of companies from all of the world's continents attracted by the location and the opportunities afforded after almost eight decades of closure to the private sector.
What Mexico Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquin Coldwell envisioned as a "diversified industrial ecosystem" appears to have been realized by the reform.
Meanwhile, with its $1 billion war chest, Vista is about to conclude a deal with China's Sinopec in Argentina that industry sources suspect will be followed by an acquisition splurge that could make it No. 3 in the South American nation's oil industry.