Chevron’s CEO walked away from a near disaster last year. That opened the door for one of this year’s biggest oil deals
The Anadarko episode helped shape the decision to make a play for Noble Energy now, Wirth told CNN Business in an interview.
“[It] reinforced our existing commitment to discipline, focusing on value creation and understanding risk,” the Chevron CEO said. “We’re not going to chase value.”
But don’t call it a bidding war.
“We never got into a war. The other party (Occidental) actually bid against themselves multiple times,” Wirth said. “The war wasn’t with us. It was within.”
Chevron announced Monday it will buy Noble Energy for $13 billion, including the assumption of $8 billion of debt, in an all-stock deal. And the timing of the purchase couldn’t be more different from the Anadarko deal.
Buyer’s market — but is Noble Energy the right fit?
Last spring, oil prices were steady and the industry appeared to be on somewhat stable footing. Now, independent oil and gas producers are under enormous stress. Energy prices are depressed, production is shrinking and debt burdens are raising bankruptcy fears.
Noble’s share price crashed to as low as $3.02 in March, marking a staggering 88% decline on the year. The stock remains down 57% on the year.
Chevron agreed to pay just $10.38 per share for Noble, representing a thin premium of just 8%.
It’s clearly a buyer’s market, and Chevron certainly has the resources to make strategic acquisitions.
“In our industry, the history is that some consolidations have come during downturns. You can find safe harbor by bringing together two companies that are stronger together,” Wirth said.
But the Anadarko fiasco is a reminder that buyers must beware of which companies they hitch their ride to.
“We’re confident this is a good enterprise,” Wirth told CNN Business. “They are, in some ways, victims of their own success,” he said of Noble Energy, adding that the company’s natural gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean have become so massive they now represent a substantial portion of the entire company.
“For a company of their size, that starts to bring in questions for investors about risk concentration,” Wirth said.
By contrast, Noble Energy will represent just a small part of Chevron, making up a mere 7% of the large company’s enterprise value, according to financial services firm Raymond James.
Job cuts are coming
Chevron acknowledges the deal will kill jobs. Both companies have already been cutting jobs, and Chevron estimates the takeover will generate operating and other cost savings of about $300 million.
Although it’s too early to say how many jobs could be affected, Wirth noted there is some “overlap” between Chevron’s and Noble’s field operations. He suggested the majority of the cost-cutting will come from home-office functions.
Externally, the Noble Energy deal has received a mixed reception.
Rystad Energy analyst Artem Abramov cheered the fact that the takeover will diversify Chevron by adding natural gas assets in Israel and Cyprus. Chevron is also expanding its US oil portfolio by taking over Noble’s “low-cost, cash cow assets” in the DJ Basin, a shale field in Colorado and Wyoming.
“We view the deal as a very likely strong value creation for Chevron,” Abramov wrote in a report.
Others think Chevron could have put its financial resources to better use internally.
“Objectively speaking, Chevron does not need to do this deal,” Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov wrote in a note to clients.
Molchanov described the deal as “unnecessary” and noted that “Noble has been a highly levered company.”
In fact, the majority of the Noble Energy takeover is debt, comprising $8 billion of the $13 billion total.
CEO: Our dividend is safe
Chevron downplayed those debt concerns, however.
“We’re a big company …This doesn’t compromise our balance sheet strength,” Wirth told CNN Business.
“We remain committed to our dividend, which is vitally important to our shareholders,” Wirth said. “Not everyone in our industry has been able to say that.”
Analysts have speculated that the Noble deal could set off a wave of deals in the energy industry.
But Wirth isn’t in a rush to make more takeover bids.
Asked whether Chevron will flex its balance-sheet muscle by making more acquisitions, Wirth said his focus is on restructuring the company and integrating Noble Energy — two complex tasks that involve many people.
“We need to do both of those things well,” Wirth said. “For the short term, those are the priorities.”
Australia’s coronavirus lockdown strategy worked. Could this be a model for the US?
“The Covid-19 epidemic in our country has gone through four waves,” Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Saturday. “Besides the first wave (in Wuhan), the other epidemic waves were clusters that were regional and small-scale and were effectively controlled.”
For some lockdown skeptics, China’s experience was easy to dismiss: the country is an authoritarian, one-party state, and its methods could not necessarily be applied in democracies.
But the situation in Victoria proves that the lockdown strategy does work elsewhere, and that, given the proper information and reassurances, people are willing to make the sacrifices required to contain the virus.
With the outbreak in Victoria contained, the number of cases throughout the rest of Australia has continued to trend down. On Sunday, New South Wales, which includes Sydney, reported four new cases, while Queensland state reported just one.
New Zealand too, which on Monday began reducing social distancing regulations after daily cases dropped to zero, has seen positive results from lockdowns, enabling the country to return to relative normality far faster than nations which did not take such measures.
The US, however, remains the worst hit country in the world, with more than 6.7 million coronavirus cases and almost 200,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. As those figures potentially rise through winter, and with less and less reason to go outside, some people may start to reconsider their anti-lockdown sentiment.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly suggested that authorities in Melbourne would consider lifting a nighttime curfew next week. The curfew is currently in effect until October 26.
CNN’s Angus Watson and Eric Cheung contributed reporting.
Cruz: Ginsburg was ‘one of the finest Supreme Court litigators to have ever lived’
“He obviously worked every day with Justice Ginsburg, and I will say he admired what a careful lawyer she was,” he said. “Consistently of the lawyers on the left, of the judges on the left. Chief Justice Rehnquist was always most willing to give an important opinion to Justice Ginsburg because she wrote narrow, careful opinions.”
Cruz also honed in on the importance of filling Ginsburg’s vacancy with a constitutionalist judge ahead of the November election. The senator had been on President Donald Trump’s shortlist of Supreme Court nominees.
“We’re one vote away from seeing our religious liberty rights stripped away, from our free speech stripped away, from our Second Amendment stripped away,” he added. “This election matters, and I think it is the most important issue in 2020 — electing presidents and a Senate who will nominate and confirm strong constitutionalists to the court.”
Matt Hancock Says “Everybody” Should Report Their Neighbours If They Flout Coronavirus Rules
3 min read
Matt Hancock has urged people to report their neighbours for flouting coronavirus rules as he announced heavy new penalties for those who fail to self-isolate when asked.
The health secretary said he would not hesitate to alert the authorities if he became aware of anyone breaking the new “rule of six” restrictions and that “everybody should” do likewise.
It comes after the government revealed new legal powers to hand out £10,000 fines to people who do not quarantine if they test positive for the virus, rates of which are rising rapidly across the country.
The measures also include a £500 support payment for those on lower incomes who have to self-isolate and cannot work from home, and a penalty for employers who punish employers for doing so.
Mr Hancock said the UK was at a “tipping point” and could face tougher national restricions if people fail to heed new guidelines.
“I don’t want to see more measures but unfortunately if people don’t follow the rules that’s how the virus spreads,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge.
“Everyone faces a choice and it comes down to individual moments – should I go to that party where there might not be social distancing?
“The answer is no, you should not.”
Mr Hancock said local lockdowns had brought cases “right under control” in parts of the country, as London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned the capital could be placed under additional curbs as soon as Monday.
And the health secretary said he would “not rule out” Londoners being asked to work from home, as he prepared to meet City Hall officials on Sunday.
He told Times Radio: “I’ve been talking to the Mayor of London over the weekend about what’s needed in London and that’s an example of local action in the same way that I was talking about the councils in the north east. And then we took action in Lancashire…and we had to bring in more measures in Wolverhampton.
“The conversation is…an ongoing one with the mayor.”
PoliticsHome is maintaining a live map of local lockdown restrictions across the UK, which is viewable here.
A source close to the mayor said on Saturday: “It’s clear that cases in London are only moving in one direction, we are now just days behind hotspots in the North West and North East.
“We can’t afford more delay. Introducing new measures now will help slow the spread of the virus and potentially prevent the need for a fuller lockdown like we saw in March, which could seriously damage the economy once again.”
Mr Hancock promised the UK has “got the cavalry coming over the next few months; the vaccine, the mass testing and the improvement in treatments”.
“But we’ve got to all follow the rules between now and then to keep people safe,” he told the BBC.
Asked what he expected the death rate could be if people failed to do so, the health secretary said: “It’s unknowable, because it depends on the behaviour of every single person in this country.”
Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer warned new legal powers were not a “silver bullet” and urged ministers to fix the struggling test and trace programme.
He said Boris Johnson should apologise to the nation for the system’s failings and restart daily press briefings “so everybody knows what’s going on”.
“I don’t think a national lockdown is inevitable. I think it’s more likely because testing is all over the place,” he told Sky News.
“I think one of the conerns I have and a lot of people have is because the government has lost control of testing, it doesn’t know where the virus is.”
He added: “We are in this position just when we need testing to be at its best.”
The Labour leader also called for schoolchildren to be prioritised for testing to avoid mass school closures, with tests and results offered within a 48-hour period.
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