With XTO Acquired By Exxon, Here Are The Next Players To Get Snapped Up

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rounds some thoughts from the analysts and commentariat in regards to yesterday’s huge acquisition of XTO (XTO) by Exxon (XOM):

What does it mean for other E&P companies? Simmons & Co. asks:

“This transaction will likely set a bid under the E&P group today as the best capitalised and historically most conservative company moves decisively further into unconventional NAM natural gas. The transaction can’t help but imply a vote of confidence in both the potential resource size in shale gas and in the majors outlook for North American natural gas prices (XOM holding more exposure to swing Qatari LNG of any major). Companies that will likely garner immediate attention as take out candidates are CHK, EOG, SWN, RRC, APC, DVN, etc.”

What does it mean for services firms (drillers etc.)? they also ask:

Negative, particularly if today’s transaction becomes a trend. Unlike JV’s, where the majors bring capital to continue development, an outright company-level acquisition of this magnitude is typically followed by slowed development in the midst of portfolio high grading; a negative for NAM drilling and service companies.”

Simmons also observes that XTO has hedged 53 per cent of its 2010 production at $9.62/mcf. Exxon generally doesn’t use such hedges, so it will be interesting to see if they stick or are liquidated.

CreditSights notes the deal “removes one of the five largest independent North American E&Ps, leaving only four independents remaining who have the scale that would likely be attractive to the Integrateds/Super Majors – Anadarko (APC), Devon (DVN), EnCana (ECA), and Chesapeake (CHK).”

Tudor Pickering & Holt says the deal will “probably” kick off a major consolidation trend because “majors tend to be lemmings around trends like jvs/consolidation“. Their list of likely targets includes EOG, SWN, HK, ECA, DVN, CHK, APC.

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