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North American E&Ps Spurning IPOs, MLPs

North American oil and natural gas companies, particularly the producers, turned their backs on public launches of new ventures during the third quarter, likely because of low commodity prices and potential interest rate hikes, a review of third quarter activity found.

While other sectors made progress toward going public through initial public offerings (IPO) or master limited partnership (MLP) spinoffs, no oil and gas companies participated during 3Q2015, according to an Ernst & Young (EY) report on global IPO trends.

"Opinions diverge tremendously on the size and timing of the commodity price comeback, and, as a result, the industry is enacting short and long-term adjustments to fit this 'new normal,'" said EY's Greg Matlock, who is MLP leader in the United States. Between July and September, "oil and gas companies -- especially producers -- increasingly focused on evaluating new and different sources of capital."

EY's analysis used data sourced by Dealogic as of Sept. 15, as well as an expectation of deals that were scheduled to be completed by the end of the quarter.

Hedging may protect a lot of E&Ps from the full impact of low prices for some period, but "many leveraged companies will face lower flexibility as their hedges roll off," the report noted. A "prolonged low oil price will force certain E&P executives -- especially those who are not hedged as well as others -- to respond aggressively."

"For companies not hedged as well or those with hedges rolling off, figuring out how to manage capital will be critical," Matlock said. "This is where we are seeing companies evaluate alternate sources of capital, like teaming with private equity or considering strategic structural options, in order to pay down debt and shore up their balance sheets."

EY continues to monitor the "market dynamics and investor reception" of potential IPOs and MLPs, and plans to keep an eye on companies that "are already public but are looking for additional capital."

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