Daily GPI / M&A / NGI The Weekly Gas Market Report / NGI All News Access

Mark Papa's Got A Brand New...Blank Check Company to Pursue Energy Deals

Former EOG Resources Inc. chief Mark Papa, who helped lead the unconventional charge in the U.S. onshore, has begun his second act, helming a blank check company backed by Riverstone Holdings LLC that was created to buy energy assets.

Silver Run Acquisition Corp.'s initial public offering (IPO) debuted on Nasdaq Wednesday, securing $450 million, about $50 million more than first anticipated, with shares priced at $10. As far as where Silver Run may look to buy, the market is overflowing with distressed assets. Riverstone is to own about 20% of Silver Run's stock.

At IHS CERAWeek in Houston on Tuesday, Papa told the audience that as debt overwhelms some exploration and production companies, they will be "decimated" and forced to restructure or file bankruptcy. Many operators already are in distress and prices could remain low for up to 24 months.

"From those ashes, you will see the companies that survive," Papa told the audience.  "A lot of them will be grievously wounded financially, and the management teams that come out of it will be a lot more conservative going forward."

U.S. producers that survive likely will become the "dominant exploration and production operators in the world" once the shakeout is over.

The future is bright for U.S. production, Papa said. By 2022, "I could envision the U.S. could be producing 13-14 million b/d of crude oil. The future could be a lot brighter than people think."

Houston-based Silver Run was founded late last year, and in its Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Form S-1 filing, management said the company was formed to effect a "merger, capital stock exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses...We intend to focus our search for a target business in the energy industry. "

Blank check companies like Silver Run, also known as special purpose entities, use stock offerings to raise cash before they prowl for acquisitions. In the past, many blank check offerings were overseen by hedge funds.

In its prospectus filed with the SEC, Papa and company said there were no transactions in the works. Like other blank check entities, Silver Run has two years to spend most of the stock offering proceeds, and if an investment isn't made within the given period, the cash is returned to investors.

The IPO market for energy has grown cold over the past year as commodity prices were pummeled. According to data from Dealogic, only about $5 billion was raised by private equity firms last year for oil and natural gas deals, versus $19 billion in 2014. The market was expected to begin heating up, with KLR Energy Acquisition Corp., another blank check company designed to build an exploration business, set to launch in March. However, KLR said Thursday it would delay its IPO.

Papa led EOG, which spun off from Enron Corp., from 1999 until the end of 2013. In early 2015 he joined Riverstone as a partner, and recently he was named chairman of Oil States Industries (see Daily GPI, Feb. 18).

Silver Run intends to "identify and acquire a business that could benefit from a hands-on owner with extensive operational experience in the energy sector and that presents potential for an attractive risk-adjusted return profile under our stewardship," its website says. "Even fundamentally sound companies can often underperform their potential" because of a "temporary period of dislocation in the markets in which they operate, inefficient capital allocation, over-levered capital structures, excessive cost structures, incomplete management teams and/or inappropriate business strategies.

"Our management team has extensive experience in identifying and executing such full-potential acquisitions across the upstream, midstream, refining, power, services and renewable energy sectors."

In addition to Papa, Silver Run management is to include CFO Thomas Walker, who also is Riverstone's CFO. Silver Run Secretary Stephen S. Coats is a Riverstone partner who currently serves as general counsel. Directors include William D. Gutermuth, who is chairman of Bluegrass Capital LLC. Jeffrey Tepper, a private investor who is experienced in mergers and acquisitions, also was named to the board, as was Diana J. Walters, who owns natural resources consultancy 575 Grant LLC.

Recent Articles by Carolyn Davis

Comments powered by Disqus