Vantage Energy, a Colorado-based gas producer, fired the starting gun on an initial public offering on Tuesday in would be the first float by a US exploration and production company on a stock exchange in more than two years.
The move is a sign of rising investor interest in flotations of US oil and gas companies despite the continued fragility of crude prices. Appetites have been stirred by the 21 per cent advance by the sector this year, far outpacing the broader S&P 500.
That has led to a record pace of follow-on issuance in the sector this year, with nearly $24bn raised as companies seek to fortify balance sheets saddled with debt, according to Dealogic. The door on IPOs, however, has until now remained closed. Banks have failed to complete a $5m or larger float in 2015 or 2016 so far, the Dealogic data shows.
Vantage said it planned to raise as much as $100m in the offering on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol VEI. The $100m is a place holder figure and likely to rise after banks begin a marketing roadshow.
The group produces primarily in the Marcellus region of Pennsylvania, the largest shale gasfield in the US and the most successful in recent years. Total production in the Marcellus Shale rose strongly up until the end of last year and has since levelled off, but still accounts for about a quarter of all natural gas output in the US.
In its SEC filing, Vantage said its Marcellus wells had some of the highest initial production rates of any county in the region, and it had also achieved encouraging early results from its wells in the deeper-lying Utica formation.
Greene County in Pennsylvania, where Vantage has its Marcellus drilling rights, is close to the convergence of several existing or planned pipelines, helping it achieve better prices and increase production.
Vantage also has assets in the Barnett Shale of north Texas, a region that was the first to be opened up by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Gas production in the Barnett has been in decline since 2012, but there have been recent signs of a possible revival, including a move by Total of France to buy a package of assets there from Chesapeake Energy.
Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Citigroup, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo were set to lead the IPO. Vantage warned investors in the documents it filed with US securities regulators that a “a further reduction or sustained decline in commodity prices may adversely affect our business”, and said its projects required “substantial” capital expenditures.
The company attempted an IPO in September 2014 that would have valued it at nearly $2bn, before it pulled the offering in the face of a sharp drop in oil prices — Brent fell more than 76 per cent from a peak in 2014 to a low this year.
Vantage said it would use the proceeds from its float to repay revolving credit facilities and term loans, as well as to fund its drilling activities and invest in its midstream infrastructure.
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