Drillinginfo, an energy SaaS and data analytics company, has listed the top 10 U.S. upstream M&A deals in the second quarter of 2019. The amount of money in the deals came off significant lows in the first quarter, rebounding to $65 billion. However, analysts point out the jump was the result of the Occidental-Anadarko deal. Occidental paid $57 billion for Anadarko. That one transaction accounted for 88 percent of the second-quarter activity.
Taking Occidental-Anadarko out of the equation, the quarter played out much as Drillinginfo predicted—a slight bounce back of $7.6 billion. This may have been close to four times the $2 billion M&A in the first quarter, it is still only half the average quarterly total of $19 billion in 2017-2018.
“Occidental dominated headlines this quarter with assertive maneuvering to beat out much larger rival Chevron and secure a deal with Anadarko,” said Drillinginfo M&A analyst Andrew Dittmar. “While Anadarko’s assets span the globe, the deal is largely a play on U.S. shale—particularly in the juggernaut Permian, which continues to power U.S. production growth.”
Moving past that deal, the largest Q2 deals focused on the Haynesville, Gulf of Mexico and onshore U.S. conventional assets.
Comstock Resources made the second-largest deal of the quarter, picking up private equity-backed Covey Park for $2.2 billion, thereby expanding its Haynesville presence. The acquisition was courtesy of Jerry Jones, who might be best known for being the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, but also has controlling interest in Comstock. He added $475 million to take his total commitment to $1.1 billion.
Jones kept Comstock from needing Wall Street money for the deal. Good thing, since Wall Street has been on the sidelines in 2019.
“Wall Street, consistent with the message for E&Ps to live within cash flow, has cut off new investment dollars from public markets,” Dittmar said. “Smaller E&Ps, many of which were focused on growth and counting on continued funding have been particularly impacted. Some of these smaller companies could evaluate whether they would be better off private.”
Private capital is still in play, but with a different model. “Private money is finding targeted opportunities,” said John Spears, Drillinginfo’s director of market research. “Companies like Sabinal (Kayne Anderson sponsored) are buying productionheavy assets as public companies trim their portfolios. The investment timeline may have lengthened from past years, but these companies still see opportunity to generate cash flow.”
Some expected there would have been many public company consolidations following the Anadarko purchase by Occidental. That wasn’t the case probably because of the sizable gap between what sellers wanted to receive and buyers wanted to pay. However, analysts are looking at is more “mergers of equals,” similar to Midstates/Amplify and Keane Group/C&J Energy.