Neptune Energy buys VNG's oil and gas assets off Norway, Denmark

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OSLO (Reuters) - Private equity-backed Neptune Energy has agreed to buy the Norwegian and Danish offshore oil and gas assets of German gas utility VNG, the companies said on Thursday.

Headed by former Centrica boss Sam Laidlaw and backed by the Carlyle Group <CG.O> and CVC Capital partners, Neptune seeks to become a leading independent exploration and production (E&P) firm, it added.

The transaction follows a deal by Neptune last year to buy the oil and gas unit of France's Engie <ENGIE.PA> for 2.98 billion pounds($3.9 billion).

The deal is also a continuation of a trend among European utilities selling out of upstream oil and gas business as their core onshore activity is being challenged by renewable energy.

The size of the VNG transaction was not disclosed, but a source close to the deal said it was valued at around 400 million euros ($462.60 million).

(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis and Arno Schuetze, editing by Terje Solsvik)

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