About a month ago I wrote about Devon Energy’s (DVN) plan to focus on North American on-shore energy exploration by disposing of its off-shore and international properties in 2010. Essentially the company has too many properties to drill for oil and natural gas and not enough capital resources to fund all of the potential projects. By selling off their international and off-shore properties, Devon can reduce debt and focus its future exploration efforts on the very promising on-shore acreage it has, boosting shareholder value in the process.
Despite the restructuring plan announcement made just last month, Devon’s name is being thrown around as a possible M&A partner now that XTO Energy (XTO) has been gobbled up by Exxon (XOM). I find it unlikely that in light of the deal announced this week that Devon would all of the sudden scrap its 2010 asset disposition plan and instead entertain buyout offers from larger energy players.
Judging from Devon’s stated strategy, it does seem that they share Exxon’s bullish stance on North American on-shore shale properties. After all, they are selling other assets to focus their company on those plays going forward. As a result, it seems to me that Devon already owns enough attractive assets that it prefers to go it alone and build a leading North American energy producer.
Now, surely a larger company with less attractive assets may covet a company like Devon, but I do not believe, given the firm’s recent strategy announcement, that it feels like it needs to partner with a larger firm to create shareholder value from those assets. Of course, the company would need to strongly consider any significant premium they may be offered for the entire company, but in terms of companies positioned to benefit from doing a larger M&A deal, Devon Energy does not seem to fit that mold.
Like Chesapeake (CHK), which I mentioned yesterday, Peridot Capital is also invested in Devon, but again not necessarily for the prospects of a takeover. Rather, the company already has plenty of assets (and after their asset disposition plan is complete, ample capital) to boost their stock price significantly long term. Unless a large energy company has both an interest in the assets that Devon is putting up for sale, as well as a desire to boost its on-shore shale exposure, I believe it is unlikely that Devon agrees to a takeover anytime soon.
Disclosure: Peridot Capital was long both Chesapeake Energy and Devon Energy at the time of writing, but positions may change at any time.