Chesapeake (CHK) Running Out of Options, May Sell Assets

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Chesapeake (CHK) Running Out of Options, May Sell Assets

After starting the new year with lofty goals to cut its debt, stop a funding gap and sell billions of dollars of assets for oil gas basins, Chesapeake Energy Corporation’s (NYSE:CHK) second half of the year may make these difficult to achieve. Now the company may have to just have to focus on stopping its funding gap.

According to Jefferies Group, Inc. (NYSE:JEF) analyst Biju Perincheril in a Tuesday research note, reported by The Wall Street Journal, before year’s end, Chesapeake Energy has to raise at least $7 billion in asset sales and an additional $2 billion in 2013 to agree to its credit-line covenants. These numbers come under the assumption that the company won’t achieve its debt-reduction targets and will subsequently sells its coveted oilfields that had been eyed for increased drilling.

To stop Chesapeake’s funding gap, Perincheril looks for a sale of the company’s Permian Basin fields in Texas to bring in a much-needed $5 billion along with $500 million in cash from the sale of its joint venture in its Mississippi Lime fields in Oklahoma and Kansas.

The analyst also wrote in his note, “Beyond these, there is not much visibility.” And this still won’t be enough.

The company will be $1 billion short. To get this balance, Perincheril thinks Chesapeake may have to get rid of some “prized assets” in the Ohio and south Texas undeveloped oil-shale fields. These are the venues where the company had been interested in drilling. In an effort to decrease its natural gas dependence, they provide an opportunity for additional oil sales.

But this could be Chesapeake’s only option.

The company has moved toward spinning off its oilfield services subsidiary by filing plans with the Securities Exchange Commission for an IPO to raise $862.5 million. But the timing isn’t great to do this as noted by Perincheril and the deal is “unlikely.” Chesapeake Oilfield Services, a unit that get almost all of its income by working for Chesapeake, is scaling back drilling with its financial problems.

Perincheril also wrote that by obtaining cash through the sale of future oil and gas production up front, it “could be limited by the need to maintain certain” cash flow levels as required from the company’s credit-line covenants. There are also problems with Chesapeake selling pipelines to its publicly-traded subsidiary Chesapeake Midstream Partners, L.P. (NYSE:CHKM),


On Friday, activist investor Carl Icahn revealed a 7.6 percent stake in Chesapeake. The company’s shares rose on this news, jumping 3.2 percent to $16.32. On Tuesday, the stock closed at $16.35.

Reuters has just reported that Chesapeake will be meeting with major lenders this week, according to a person familiar with the matter.


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