Gastar in acquisition deal with Chesapeake Energy

Gastar in acquisition deal with Chesapeake Energy; also will buy back shares of its stock

Associated Press

HOUSTON (AP) -- Gastar Exploration Ltd. is buying proven reserves and undeveloped leasehold interests in Oklahoma from Chesapeake Energy Corp. for $75.2 million.

The oil and natural gas company also agreed to repurchase Chesapeake's shares of its stock for $9.8 million and to settle all litigation between the companies.

Gastar shares rose more than 11 percent in premarket trading Monday.

Gastar said that the acquisition includes 176 producing wells with an estimated present value of proved reserves of $32.4 million. The proven reserves and undeveloped leasehold interests are in Kingfisher and Canadian counties in Oklahoma.

Gastar President and CEO J. Russell Porter said in a statement that the acquisition will give Gastar the chance to secure a much larger position in what it feels has the potential to be a highly prolific oil field.

Gastar also agreed to repurchase from Chesapeake about 6.8 million shares of Gastar's stock at $1.44 per share. This is Chesapeake's entire stake in Gastar and is about 9.9 percent of Gastar's total outstanding stock.

The companies have also agreed to settle all current litigation between them. Chesapeake filed a lawsuit against Gastar in October in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas seeking rescission of some 2005 transactions with Gastar and reimbursement of additional well costs.

Gastar said that the transactions are expected to be funded with a combination of available borrowings under its revolving credit facility, proceeds from the possible sale of East Texas assets and by issuing debt or preferred stock.

The acquisition and stock buyback is expected to close by June 7. If the acquisition doesn't close by such date, Chesapeake may end the acquisition deal but Gastar can choose to pay for the stock repurchase and settle litigation assuming enough funding is available.

Gastar, which is based in Houston, said that subsequent to the transactions' closing it plans to pursue a joint venture partner for new acreage to help reduce its debt and fund the planned exploration and development program.

Gastar shares rose 20 cents, or 11.4 percent, to $1.96 in premarket trading. Chesapeake Energy shares were unchanged at $20.41.

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