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Former Anadarko Chief Hackett to Prowl For E&P Investments as CEO of New Riverstone Entity

With one U.S. onshore producer launched last year performing above expectations, Riverstone Holdings LLC has turned to retired Anadarko Petroleum Corp. chief Jim Hackett to lead another.

The investment firm launched Silver Run Acquisition Corp. II, an energy-focused special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), in a Nasdaq sale Thursday that raised $900 million. The offering more than doubled in size from the $400 million proposed in a U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing only three weeks ago.

The sale, priced at $10/unit, is expected to exceed $1 billion and may tie or break the record for the largest blank check offering if the managing banks exercise options to buy shares.

The new entity follows Silver Run 1, launched by Riverstone in February 2016 and led by former EOG Resources Inc. chief Mark Papa. That offering secured $450 million, which at the time was above expectations. Papa's Denver-based exploration and production (E&P) company, rebranded as Centennial Resource Development Inc., now controls 77,000 net acres in the Permian Basin's Delaware sub-basin. Papa said Thursday he expects Centennial's output to increase this year by 191%.

Hackett, who served as Anadarko CEO until May 2012, retired as executive chairman in 2013, initially to obtain a master's degree in theological studies at Harvard Divinity School. In June 2013 Riverstone named Hackett co-leader of its Houston office while he continued to pursue his advanced degree. In 2013 he helped lead a Riverstone investment in Mexico's first independent exploration and production company, Sierra Oil & Gas S. de R.L. de C.V.

Riverstone did not disclose specific details about where the new E&P company may invest. In the SEC Form S-1 filing on Wednesday, it said the new Silver Run SPAC was formed to enter into a "merger, capital stock exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses." The units are trading on the Nasdaq Capital Market under "SRANU."

"We have not identified any potential business combination target and we have not, nor has anyone on our behalf, initiated any substantive discussions, directly or indirectly, with any potential business combination target," Riverstone said. "Although we may pursue an acquisition opportunity in any business or industry, we intend to capitalize on the ability of our management team and the broader Riverstone platform to identify, acquire and operate a business in the energy industry that may provide opportunities for attractive risk-adjusted returns."

Riverstone plans 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."

In addition to Hackett, who is to serve as CEO, Riverstone Partner Thomas J. Walker, was named CFO. Walker also served as CFO of Silver Run 1 until last October. Stephen S. Coats, former secretary of Silver Run 1 and Riverstone's general counsel, is secretary of the new entity. The directors are William D. Gutermuth, Jeffrey H. Tepper and Diana J. Walters.

"Papa and Hackett getting back in the game may be pure coincidence," said NGI's Patrick Rau, director of strategy and research. "But I do know that private equity shops have money, private equity shops aren't getting paid to sit on cash, so they will spend said money, and private equity shops eventually want to monetize their investment, a la what Centennial just did.

"Having former high-flying, well known names can aid in the process, not only by attracting more capital along the way, but also in developing those assets before going public. It also probably doesn't hurt that Papa is running Centennial, for those who want to invest in him, thinking he'll be able to replicate what he did with EOG Resources."

That doesn't always work, Rau said. "It's still very much a commodity business, and ultimately, the quality of the rock matters."

For example, Rau said, "remember Long-Term Capital Management? How it almost took down the banking system in the 1990s? That was a hedge fund that went with a similar ‘stars’ approach. They hired guys like Myron Scholes and Robert Merton (both famous for their work on options pricing models) to do the same thing: help set strategy, but also wow potential investors with their big names."

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