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Talisman CEO John Manzoni

Jeff McIntosh

Calgary-based Talisman Energy Inc. saw its first-quarter earnings drop by about half, announcing it earned $228-million in its first quarter.

That's down sharply from the $455-million in net income from the year-ago period, which enjoyed significant accounting gains from asset sales.

But Talisman's first-quarter results are an improvement from its fourth quarter loss of $111-million.

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John A. Manzoni, president and chief executive officer said in a statement released early Wednesday that during the quarter, Talisman announced a number of agreements to sell additional non-core properties in North America.

"The agreements are at different stages of completion and we expect the sales process to be completed by midyear," Mr. Manzoni said. "These sales give us additional financial flexibility and help continue to strengthen the focus on our low-cost North American shale gas programs.

Talisman announced in April that it will sell a number of properties in Canada through five separate deals worth a total of $1.9-billion in its continuing effort to acquire promising shale gas holdings.

The deals include more than 400,000 hectares in the Peace River Arch area near the northern borders of British Columbia and Alberta and properties in the central Alberta Foothills region and near Hinton, Alberta.

"Talisman's net debt was $1.8-billion at the end of the quarter, down from $2.1-billion at year-end. We expect to end the year with a significant cash balance, which will provide us with flexibility heading into 2011," Mr. Manzoni said.

Talisman released its first quarter results before the opening of North American markets Wednesday.

The oil and gas giant will be holding its annual general meeting Wednesday afternoon.

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Indigenous groups opposed to Talisman drilling in the Peruvian rain forest are expected to be protesting the Calgary meeting.

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