UPDATE 2-Chesapeake to sell some Oklahoma assets to Newfield for $470 mln

Thu May 5, 2016 10:29am EDT
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(Adds quote from CFO on debt management options, updates stock price)

May 5 (Reuters) - Debt-laden Chesapeake Energy Corp, the second-largest U.S. natural gas producer, said on Thursday it was selling $470 million in assets in Oklahoma to Newfield Exploration Co as part of a plan to shore up its finances through divestitures.

Chesapeake's shares were up 12 percent at $6.31 in premarket trading after the company reported a smaller quarterly loss and cut its production expense forecast for the year. They later traded at $5.97, up 5.7 percent.

The company, which has more than $9 billion in debt, said it would sell about 42,000 net acres in Oklahoma's STACK field, with current production of 3,800 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Low natural gas and oil prices have hit the heavily leveraged company, which plans to sell assets worth an additional $500 million to $1 billion this year.

"We anticipate subsequent divestitures during the second and third quarters," Chief Executive Doug Lawler said in a statement.

The company on Thursday lowered its forecast for 2016 production costs to $3.40-$3.60 per barrel of oil equivalent from $3.60-$3.80 per boe.

Chesapeake said in February that it tapped legal counsel Kirkland & Ellis for advice as it seeks to strengthen its balance sheet to manage debt maturing in the next 18 to 24 months. It said it had no plans for bankruptcy as some in the market have speculated.

"We continue to look at all of our options, including the use of additional secured debt, private transactions with bondholders and other types of exchange offers and open market purchases," said CFO Nick Dell'Osso.   Continued...