In August, Chesapeake Energy Corporation announced that it would acquire Vine Energy Inc. in a stock-and-cash transaction valued at approximately $2.2 billion. We previously discussed Vine’s IPO, which was the first upstream (non-minerals, non-SPAC) initial public offering since Berry Petroleum’s debut in mid-2017.
Vine’s decision to be acquired in a ~0% premium transaction less than five months after its IPO speaks to the difficulty for E&P companies to manage public market dynamics even in a much-improved commodity price environment.
In this post, we dig into the transaction rationale, look at relative value measures, and analyze how this transaction seems to indicate a shift in Chesapeake’s strategy.
Transaction Volume and Deal Size Rebound in 2021
Over the last year, deal activity in the Bakken has been steadily increasing after a challenging 2020. Eight of the nine deals, in the last twelve months, occurred in the last eight months as the price environment has turned more favorable. As the industry seems optimistic that the worst of COVID-19 is behind us, deal activity may continue to increase into next year, but there is always hesitation, especially with the Delta variant on the rise.
A Tale of Two Transactions
M&A transactions picked up in the 12-months ended mid-June relative to the 12-month period preceding it. Among all the transactions that occurred over this period, one pair jumped out involving a common buyer and for which valuation metrics were available. These related to Pioneer’s acquisition of Parsley Energy in October 2020 and DoublePoint Energy in April 2021. In this post, we take a deeper dive into each transaction.
Pocketbooks Open for More Deals and Larger Positions
Transaction activity in the Permian Basin picked up in earnest this past year, indicating greater optimism in extracting value from the West Texas and Southeast New Mexico basin.
The rise of SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies, has been the hottest trend in capital markets during the past year.
In this blog, we take a look at a few oil & gas companies that were early adopters of the SPAC structure, review the recent pivot of SPACs towards energy transition companies, and see what the future might hold for the few remaining oil & gas-focused SPACs.
After what felt like an eternity of quiet transaction activity in the O&G industry, the M&A market in 2021 has been off to a more active start in 2021. In this post, we discuss the Pioneer-DoublePoint transaction that could foreshadow for more M&A activity to come.
Regardless of whether a company files for Chapter 11, is party to an M&A transaction, or executes some other form of capital restructuring–such as new equity funding rounds or dividend recaps–one fundamental question takes center stage. Will the company remain solvent? This week we discuss the four tests that are used by professionals when performing a solvency opinion, and questions to consider for oil and gas companies.
The economics of oil and gas production vary by region. Mercer Capital focuses on trends in the Eagle Ford, Permian, Bakken, and Marcellus and Utica plays. The cost of producing oil and gas depends on the geological makeup of the reserve, depth of reserve, and cost to transport the raw crude to market. We can observe different costs in different regions depending on these factors. This quarter we take a closer look at the Eagle Ford.
Transaction Activity Slows Amid Challenges of 2020
M&A transaction activity in the Eagle Ford was fairly quiet throughout 2020 before Chevron’s $13 billion deal with Noble Energy. The Chevron-Noble Energy transaction and the Ovintiv-Validus deal could be foreshadowing a busier M&A market in 2021.
Irrespective of what industry or sector a company may operate in, a fundamental question arises as mergers and acquisitions persist and company boards and management teams survey their options when a proposed transaction is put on the table: is it fair to all direct stakeholders? This post reviews the basics of fairness opinions and when you should obtain one.
Immense Drop in Deal Activity Due to COVID Concerns
Over the past several years, the Bakken has generally had much lighter acquisition and divestiture activity than other major basins in the United States. Given that deal activity across the energy sector has dropped an immense 42.7% over the past year, acquisition and divestiture activity has dropped even further in this basin over the past year. Observed deal activity has largely been the result of Northern Oil and Gas growing its production base in the area during the past several years.
The Road Ahead: Deal Count and Deal Motives Changing in Challenging Times
Transaction activity in the Permian Basin is in a unique and potentially critical situation as companies are facing unpredictable consequences and uncertain futures. Only four deals have been announced post-March and while the sample is small, they could be the best indication of what is to come, assuming prices remain depressed.
Steady Transaction Activity Restrained by Unforeseeable Circumstances
Over the last year, deal activity in the Eagle Ford Shale was relatively steady, picking up towards the end of 2019 and carrying into early 2020. This week we discuss recent transactions in the Eagle Ford.
Rangebound Gas Prices and Preoccupied Management Teams Cause Slowdown in Activity
It was a quiet year for M&A in Appalachia as only a handful of transactions occurred. Surging associated gas production in places like the Permian and Bakken have kept a lid on gas prices, which have largely remained between $2 and $3/mmbtu for the year. Near term expectations aren’t much better, with futures prices below $3 through 2029. Management teams were likely preoccupied with various corporate and capital structure issues instead of changes to the underlying reserve base. However, a bright spot is the easing of takeaway constraints that previously plagued the region.
On October 14, 2019, Parsley (PE) announced that it was acquiring Jagged Peak (JAG) in an all-stock transaction valued at $2.27 billion. The market’s reaction to the announcement was generally negative, as Parsley closed down more than 10% on the date of the announcement. This appears to be driven, at least in part, by investors’ desire for Parsley to be acquired rather than be the acquirer. Despite the negative market reaction, we believe this transaction is emblematic of key trends we expect to see during the next wave of consolidation.
Saltwater disposal and integrated water logistics companies have attracted a higher proportion of the sparsely available capital flowing into the sector, highlighted by the largest energy IPO of this year: Rattler Midstream LP.
A Valuation Analysis of the Multibillion-Dollar Haynesville Deal
On July 16, 2019, Comstock Resources, Inc (NYSE: CRK) finalized its acquisition of Haynesville operator Covey Park Energy LLC. Announced on June 10, 2019, the companies entered into an agreement under which Comstock would acquire Covey Park in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $2.2 billion, including assumption of Covey Park’s outstanding debt and retirement of Covey Park’s existing preferred units (totaling approximately $1.1 billion).
For the purposes of this post, we will be examining this deal from a few different vantage points and reviewing the fair value of the various components that make up total deal value. We’ll also look at how this transaction compares to industry valuation metrics and what kind of strategic advantages Comstock may have a result of the deal.
Big Deals and Bigger Opportunities
Operators in the Permian Basin have had to pay a premium to access the black gold mine, and companies are still lining up for a chance to get in on the action. While the industry as a whole has been moving into a period of rapid consolidation, a substantial portion of this acquisitive activity has been in the Permian.
Targets with highly contiguous holdings and acreage have been of particular note to acquirers in the Permian. While acreage continuity has not always been the most important aspect of a potential deal, it has certainly become more of a focal point recently.
Mineral Aggregators are Leading the Forefront in an Underwhelming Energy Sector
In this post, we will review the continued IPOs and valuation implications for the mineral aggregators market as well as examine Brigham’s operations and placement in this sector.
Over the last twelve months, the Eagle Ford Shale region has experienced steady growth and healthy transaction activity. The region’s strengths, such as its low cycle times, high oil cuts and Louisiana Light Sweet crude and Brent oil pricing, has facilitated free cash flow and made the area attractive to both investors and operators.
Companies in the energy sector and the broader market experienced an interesting year showing steady and strong growth in Q1-Q3 and met volatility in Q4, which effectively erased gains on the year and even resulted in negative returns. The oilfield services (OFS) sector, in particular, was impacted heavily during last quarter’s downturn driven primarily by fears of oversupply in the market and E&P companies cutting back and looking for discounts.
Upstream producers’ stock performance has been volatile, infrastructure issues are lurking and the industry ended the quarter a notch above flat. However, the strategic acquisitions by BP and Diamondback Energy highlight the segment’s continued optimism.
Over the past year, followers of the oil and gas industry have taken note of the multitude of transactions occurring in the Permian Basin with large deal values and hefty multiples. But the price differential between WTI and other benchmarks has grown over the last few months, and some attention has moved from the Permian to other domestic shale plays. The activity in other regions such as the Bakken was at one point slow (when compared to the Permian) causing the recent increase in production and the swapping of acreage to fly under the radar while many were focused on Texas.
From Surviving to Thriving
The oilfield service sector has recovered significantly since the crash in oil prices in mid-2014. As capex budgets have expanded, especially in the Permian Basin, demand for oilfield services such as drilling and pumping has increased. But what does this mean for transaction activity in the sector?