Another marquee name has joined the run up of blank-check companies that have relied on an oil and gas superstar to bring in investment dollars.
Former Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) CEO Stephen Chazen, who retired in April 2016, has resurfaced as the president and CEO of TPG Pace Energy Holdings Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that is preparing for an IPO of up to $690 million.
Like other blank-check companies, TPG, backed by TPG Global LLC, offers little information on what it might purchase beyond unconventional natural gas projects in North American shale. In SPACs, investor money isn’t earmarked for any particular project and the company’s officers and directors specify they have not identified or considered any initial targets.
Whatever investors’ expectations, it’s not a given that upstream SPACs will enter what is inarguably the most successful–and expensive–basin in the Lower 48, the Permian.
Efficiency gains, many centered on the Midland and Delaware basins, are already translating into more activity in other basins, such as the Haynesville and Eagle Ford, that have been disregarded in the E&P rush for Texas and New Mexico acreage.
David B. Andrews, senior managing director at Evercore, said that in the three years since the downturn, wells are producing far better in areas such as the Haynesville, which had “lost all of its glitter” until recently.
“I would expect a lot of capital to start looking for opportunities outside of the Permian and the Stack and go back into some of these basins,” Andrews said at a Mergermarket Energy Forum on April 20 in Houston.
With capital already flowing back into basins such as the Eagle Ford, SPAC money may also find its way to plays that have been bystanders during the downturn, he said.
Andrews said SPACs are not dissimilar to private-equity-backed management teams.
“You’re backing someone who is really super credible,” he said.
So far, SPACs have seen remarkable successes.
In March, Silver Run Acquisition Corp. II (NASDAQ: SRUNU) raised $1 billion in its IPO. The company’s CEO is James T. Hackett, the well-respected former board chairman and CEO of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC).
RELATED: Former Anadarko CEO Latest Headliner In $1 Billion ‘Blank-Check’ IPO
On April 10, NGP Energy Capital Management LLC-sponsored Vantage Energy Acquisition Corp. sold $480 million of units in its IPO. The company is led by Roger Biemans, former president of Encana Corp.’s (NYSE: ECA) U.S. subsidiary.
The popularity of the investment vehicle has reached into other sectors, including oilfield services. On March 29, National Energy Services Reunited Corp. filed for an IPO for a blank-check company with its targets described as the “energy services industry.”
TPG makes its investment case on the back of Chazen’s credentials, which include 35 years in the industry.
“TPG believes Mr. Chazen demonstrated an ability to consistently create value for Occidental shareholders through successful deployment of growth capital as well as through acquisition and subsequent optimization of energy and energy-related assets,” the company’s regulatory filings said.
At Oxy, Chazen oversaw nearly $40 billion of energy-related acquisitions and more than $20 billion of divestitures.
“Under Mr. Chazen’s leadership, Occidental became the fourth-largest U.S. oil and gas company, based on 2015 year-end market capitalization. Occidental’s growth was driven in large part by its asset base in the Permian Basin, an area in which Occidental was the largest operator and producer of oil in 2015,” the filings said.
Prior to his career at Oxy, Chazen was a managing director in corporate finance and M&A at Merrill Lynch.
Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and Goldman Sachs & Co. are serving as underwriters of the IPO.
Darren Barbee can be reached at email@example.com.
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