Source: Chesapeake Energy Corp.
The second-largest producer of natural gas in the US, Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) and Bronco Drilling Company, Inc. (Nasdaq/GS:BRNC) have entered into a definitive agreement for Chesapeake to acquire Bronco for approximately $315 million, including debt, net working capital and outstanding warrants.
Under the agreement, Chesapeake will make a cash tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of Bronco’s common stock at a price of $11.00 per share. The $11.00 per share purchase price represents premiums of 6% and 24% over the closing price of Bronco’s common stock on the NASDAQ on April 14, 2011 (the date of signing of the definitive agreement) and the average closing price for the 90-calendar day period ending on April 14, 2011, respectively.
The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies. The Board of Directors of Bronco unanimously recommends that Bronco’s shareholders accept the Chesapeake offer. Third Avenue Management LLC, on behalf of its investment advisory clients, and Inmobiliaria Carso, S.A. de C.V., which are Bronco’s largest shareholders and collectively own or have dispositive authority over approximately 32% of Bronco’s outstanding common stock, have committed to tender all their shares into the Chesapeake offer.
The acquisition will enable Chesapeake to further its goal of owning approximately two-thirds of the rigs that it operates in its drilling program – a key aspect of its vertical integration strategy – at an attractive price per rig. Bronco currently owns 22 high-quality drilling rigs primarily operating in the Williston and Anadarko basins, including three that are under contract with Chesapeake. Chesapeake is currently Bronco’s second largest customer.
Following the closing of the transaction, Chesapeake will integrate Bronco’s 22 rigs into Chesapeake’s wholly owned subsidiary, Nomac Drilling, L.L.C., which currently owns 95 drilling rigs available for service, of which 90 are currently drilling under contract for Chesapeake. The company is currently operating a total of 160 drilling rigs and plans to end 2012 utilizing approximately 200 drilling rigs. Chesapeake believes that the acquisition of Bronco should satisfy the vast majority of Chesapeake’s anticipated rig investment needs through 2012.
Aubrey K. McClendon, Chesapeake’s CEO, stated, “We have known and admired Bronco’s management team and assets for years and we are especially pleased to announce this transaction today. The acquisition of Bronco is a great additional step in our vertical integration strategy and increases confidence in our plan to ramp up drilling activities in highly lucrative, liquids-rich unconventional resource plays. We look forward to working with Bronco’s management team to quickly complete this transaction and integrate operations.”
D. Frank Harrison, Bronco’s Chairman and CEO, stated, “We are excited about this transaction with Chesapeake, one of the premiere and most innovative energy companies in the world. Chesapeake’s visionary and people-centric approach is highly admired. We view this as a great opportunity and in the best interests of Bronco, our shareholders and our employees.”
The definitive agreement entered into by Chesapeake and Bronco provides for Chesapeake to acquire Bronco in a two-step transaction. The first step will consist of a cash tender offer to be made by a wholly owned subsidiary of Chesapeake for all outstanding shares of Bronco common stock at a price of $11.00 per share in cash. In the second step, the tender offer will be followed by a merger in which the holders of the outstanding shares of Bronco common stock not purchased in the tender offer will receive the same per share price paid in the tender offer, in cash, without interest. Upon completion of the transaction, Bronco will become an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Chesapeake. The tender offer will be conditioned upon a majority of the outstanding shares of Bronco common stock being tendered into the offer and will also be subject to regulatory clearances and other customary terms and conditions.
Chesapeake is expected to launch the tender offer shortly and the transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2011, subject to customary closing conditions. The transaction is not subject to or conditioned upon financing arrangements.