NORTH Sea-focused Neptune Energy has underlined its growth ambitions by appointing a deal maker as vice president of business development.

The private equity-backed firm said David Hemmings would take up the position in July after spending more than 20 years advising firms on mergers and acquisitions activity as an investment banker.

Mr Hemmings joins Neptune from Rothschild & Co where he most recently held the position of managing director in the energy and power team, with a focus on oil and gas.

“The appointment of David to the Neptune team speaks clearly to our strategy and intention to become a leading international independent exploration and production company,” said chief executive Jim House.

Mr Hemmings has been recruited by Neptune four months after the company completed the €4.7bn purchase of the oil and gas business developed by French utility Engie.

This left the firm with a North Sea portfolio which includes assets it describes as strategic, such as the giant Cygnus gas field in UK waters.

Neptune also has interests in Norway, the Netherlands. North Africa and Southeast Asia.

The company was founded in 2015 by its executive chairman Sam Laidlaw who led giant utility Centrica after running oil and gas businesses such as UK-focused Enterprise Oil.

Announcing the completion of the Engie deal, in February, Mr Laidlaw said Neptune had great support from its investors China Investment Corporation and private equity giants Carlyle Group and CVC.

He said the investors and Neptune shared a vision to create an independent E&P company of scale across diversified geographies which would capture new opportunities nimbly.

Mr Hemmings entered banking after studying petroleum engineering at Imperial College.