April 2020 came and went, but there was something familiar about the times, something anachronistic about Mach Resources LLC’s purchase of Alta Mesa Resources. It was déjà vu all over again for an industry stuck on repeat.

At least, that’s how it felt for Tom L. Ward.

Alta Mesa was once expected to have a market capitalization of $3.8 billion. The company’s worth never approached half that amount. It ended its public run with a value, as adjudged by Wall Street, of just under $27 million. In the spring, Alta Mesa signed away its Midcontinent leases and midstream infrastructure for $220 million, ending the company’s brief rise and tortured fall through bankruptcy.

Mach Resources was the only serious bidder likely because it’s one of the few companies with the capital and the appetite to take on the Oklahoma assets. But this is a scenario made by design. Ward’s game plan, hatched two years ago, was to make Mach Resources an acquirer of distressed and overlooked assets.

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