Encana clears itself of collusion in Michigan

Wed Sep 5, 2012 7:00pm EDT
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By Brian Grow and Scott Haggett

ATLANTA/CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Encana Corp (ECA.TO: Quote) said on Wednesday an internal investigation has determined that it did not collude with Chesapeake Energy Corp (CHK.N: Quote) to lower the price of land acquisitions in Michigan two years ago.

The company's board of directors, which led the investigation launched on June 25 with the assistance of outside attorneys, did not provide a report on the scope of the inquiry, nor explain how it reached its conclusion.

"We can't offer more detail than what we've released as the issue is still under investigation by the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and the Michigan Attorney General," Encana spokesman Jay Averill said in an email.

Following requests from reporters, Encana disclosed that its board investigation had been assisted by attorneys from U.S. law firms Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and Canadian law firm Blake Cassels & Graydon. The law firms have each represented Encana in other corporate matters, the company said.

Encana, Canada's largest natural gas producer, also confirmed it was served with a subpoena from the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and a civil investigatory demand from the Michigan Attorney General related to the allegations of collusion.

It said it will fully cooperate with the two agencies.

In June, Reuters reported that Encana plotted with rival Chesapeake Energy Corp to suppress land prices in Michigan two years ago.

The report uncovered emails showing that the two natural gas companies repeatedly discussed how to avoid bidding against each other in a public land auction in Michigan and in nine prospective deals with private land owners in the state.   Continued...

Randy Eresman, president and CEO of EnCana, addresses shareholders at the company's annual general meeting in Calgary, Alberta, April 25, 2012. REUTERS/Todd Korol