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A pump jack draws oil from the ground near a hydraulic fracturing operation near Bowden, Alta., Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012. (Jeff McIntosh/For The Globe and Mail/Jeff McIntosh/For The Globe and Mail)
A pump jack draws oil from the ground near a hydraulic fracturing operation near Bowden, Alta., Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012. (Jeff McIntosh/For The Globe and Mail/Jeff McIntosh/For The Globe and Mail)

Argent delays $325-million IPO Add to ...

Argent Energy Trust has delayed promoting its $325-million initial public offering amid market turmoil that has weakened investor appetite for new energy products.

The company, which had planned to begin marketing early next week, has delayed that by a week, after oil plunged nearly $3.50 (U.S.) a barrel Wednesday, The Globe and Mail has learned.

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The continued uncertainty in Europe and concerns about growth in China and the United States have also led to more challenging market prospects.

Argent still intends to wrap up its two weeks of marketing by the end of June, sources said.

The company is bidding to become the third new energy trust to trade in Toronto, following a model that has seen companies look to start trusts with foreign assets, shielding them from the taxation increases imposed by Ottawa in 2006.

But a roller-coaster ride in markets, and oil in particular, have made that a challenging venture. After hovering above $100 for months, oil has been plunging, touching seven-month lows this week. Crude inventories have been declining, and gasoline demand has been weak.

Those obstacles have tempered the outlook for new foreign asset income trusts, which have attracted substantial new interest in the oil patch. Entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on the investor thirst for yield have contemplated a series of new trusts using the model, some using energy assets, others using infrastructure assets from across the globe.

Those new trusts require substantial capitalization, however, which has been difficult to procure in difficult markets. Argent, for example, pulled back on an IPO attempt last year amid a declining market outlook. Another would-be entrant, North American Oil Trust, failed to raise the $375-million it was looking to raise for an IPO last year.

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