Plains Exploration & Production Co.
will become part of mining conglomerate Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.
after a majority of shareholders voted to approve the $6.6 billion merger. Freeport, based in Phoenix, in December offered close to $9 billion total to buy Plains, as well as to bring back into the fold McMoRan Exploration Co.
, which it had spun off in 1994 (see NGI
, Dec. 10, 2012
). McMoRan shareholders are scheduled to vote June 3 on the merger, comprised of about $2.4 billion cash and a share of future royalties on some assets. The approval came after Freeport and Plains agreed to give Plains shareholders $3.00/share in a one-time special cash dividend and another $1.00 for each Freeport share when the merger is completed. The one-time dividend will cost Freeport an estimated $1 billion. Assuming the merger is completed as scheduled by Friday (May 31), Freeport plans to also complete $1.5 billion in asset sales from the combined company as a way to reduce capital spending. Freeport claims that it would become the fifth-largest U.S.-based natural resource company by enterprise value once the mergers are complete, trailing ExxonMobil Corp
., Chevron Corp.
and Occidental Petroleum Corp.