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Chevron buys Anadarko in US$33b bet on shale oil, LNG

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Chevron Corp agreed to buy Anadarko Petroleum Corp in a US$33 billion bet on the Permian shale-oil region and liquefied natural gas, intensifying a battle with Exxon Mobil Corp to be America's top energy company.

[NEW YORK] Chevron Corp agreed to buy Anadarko Petroleum Corp in a US$33 billion bet on the Permian shale-oil region and liquefied natural gas, intensifying a battle with Exxon Mobil Corp to be America's top energy company.

Chevron is making a double bet on what many in energy consider the future of Big Oil over the next decade. The deal adds acreage and production in the prolific Permian shale basin of West Texas and south-east New Mexico and also increases Chevron's exposure to LNG at a time when natural gas is being viewed as the most favoured transition fuel in the fight against climate change.

It puts Chevron neck-and-neck with the oil and gas production of Exxon and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, both of which have dominated Big Oil over the past decade. Measured by cash flow, Chevron said in a statement it would have generated a combined US$36.5 billion with Anadarko last year, slightly ahead of Exxon's US$36 billion. The new company will sell US$15 billion to US$20 billion of assets from 2020 to 2022, to reduce debt and return cash to investors.

"Consolidation in deep water and the shales makes complete industrial sense," said Christyan Malek, the head of EMEA oil and gas research at JPMorgan Chase & Co. "It gives the combined entity the ability to high-grade its assets and focus on where the best cash returns are."

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The transaction is the biggest strategic move yet for Michael Wirth, the 58-year-old chemical engineer who became Chevron's chief executive officer just 15 months ago. He has quickly shaken up the company by announcing an aggressive expansion plan in the Permian.

Chevron will acquire all outstanding shares in Anadarko for US$65 each, paying with a mixture of cash and its own stock. That's a premium of 39 per cent to the closing price on Thursday. Anadarko's shares soared in pre-market trading while those of Chevron were lower.

Anadarko has long been speculated about as a takeover target for the world's largest oil companies, offering a suite of assets including a massive LNG facility in Mozambique that is racing against an Exxon project to be the first operating in the country.

This is the biggest takeover in the oil and gas industry since Shell's £47 billion(S$83.1 billion) purchase of BG Group in 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Widening the measure to include chemicals and state-owned companies, both would be eclipsed by Saudi Aramco's US$69 billion acquisition of a majority stake in local petrochemical company Sabic this year.

Chevron said the combined entity would have had daily output of 3.596 million barrels equivalent of oil last year, compared with Shell's 3.666 million. Exxon reported average production last year of 3.833 million.

Investors will receive 0.3869 shares of Chevron and US$16.25 in cash for each Anadarko share. Chevron will issue 200 million shares and pay US$8 billion in cash. The company said it will also assume about US$15 billion of net debt, giving Anadarko an enterprise value of US$50 billion.

Chevron expects the deal to add to free cash flow and earnings per share one year after closing, at US$60-a-barrel Brent. The company said will boost its share repurchase rate by US$1 billion to US$5 billion per year upon closing of the deal. It expects the transaction to achieve run-rate cost synergies of US$1 billion before tax and capital spending cuts of US$1 billion within a year of closing.

The deal is expected to close in the second half of the year, subject to Anadarko shareholder approval, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

BLOOMBERG