Chesapeake Energy Corporation has successfully concluded its restructuring process and emerged from Chapter 11, satisfying all conditions precedent under its Plan of Reorganization (the "Plan"). Highlights of the reorganized Chesapeake include:
- Anticipated cumulative free cash flow of more than $2 billion over the next five years, providing stability and optionality to return cash to shareholders
- Targeting long-term net debt to EBITDAX ratio of less than 1.0 times
- Issued $1 billion senior unsecured notes at a weighted average coupon of less than 5.7%
- Disciplined capital reinvestment strategy of 60% to 70% of cash flow; 2021 activity focused on world-class natural gas assets
- The permanent elimination of over $1 billion in annual cash costs from 2019 levels with opportunities for additional reductions; top-quartile operating performance metrics vs. peer group
- Commitment to achieving net-zero GHG direct emissions by 2035, eliminating routine flaring on all wells completed on a go-forward basis, and meaningfully reducing methane and GHG intensity by 2025
- New Board of Directors nominated by long-term value-focused equity holders; newly formed ESG Committee dedicated to ESG oversight and excellence
Doug Lawler, Chesapeake's President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "Today marks a new day for Chesapeake. We have fundamentally reset our business, and with an improved capital and cost structure, disciplined approach to capital reinvestment, diverse asset base and talented employees, we are poised to deliver sustainable free cash flow for years to come. Additionally, our unwavering resolve to leading a responsible energy future has never been greater, and our pledge to achieve net zero GHG direct emissions by 2035, eliminate routine flaring on new completions immediately, and significantly reduce our methane and GHG emission intensity by 2025, place Chesapeake on a path toward setting a new standard of environmental excellence in our industry."
Michael Wichterich, Chairman of Chesapeake's Board of Directors, commented "The new Board of Directors and I look forward to working with Doug and the entire Chesapeake team to build an enduring enterprise which creates sustainable value for our stakeholders by efficiently producing low-cost energy under the strictest environmental, social, and governance standards."
Lawler added, "As we look ahead, maintaining the strength of our balance sheet, our cost leadership position, and our steadfast commitment to delivering consistent returns, while lowering our emissions profile will be paramount to our success."
New Common Equity
Under the court-approved Plan, approximately $7.8 billion of debt has been equitized, and the company's preferred and common equity interests have been cancelled as of February 9, 2021.
The company's new common shares will be listed on the NASDAQ Exchange under the ticker symbol "CHK," and are expected to commence trading on February 10, 2021. At emergence, Chesapeake will have approximately 100 million new common shares issued and outstanding, with additional shares to be issued upon exercise of three tranches of warrants, each with exercise provisions. The new warrants will also be listed on the NASDAQ Exchange under the ticker symbols "CHKEW" for the Series A warrants, "CHKEZ" for the Series B warrants and "CHKEL" for the Series C warrants.
Debt and Liquidity Update
As of February 9, 2021, Chesapeake's principal amount of debt outstanding was approximately $1,271 million, compared to $9,095 million as of June 30, 2020.
Upon emergence, the company entered into a credit facility with a $2.5 billion borrowing base, consisting of a $221 million non-revolving loan facility (maturing 2025) and a $1,750 million revolving loan facility (maturing 2024). Chesapeake had approximately $50 million borrowed on the facility at February 9, 2021, as well as $51 million reserved for undrawn letters of credit outstanding. On February 5, 2021, Chesapeake issued $1 billion of new senior unsecured notes which replaced the committed exit first lien last out term loan the company had negotiated for in connection with filing for Chapter 11.
Chesapeake's average daily production for the 2020 fourth quarter was approximately 435,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe), and it projects its full year 2021 average daily production to be approximately 427,000 boe. The company's planned capital expenditures for 2021 includes operating an average of six rigs and two stimulation crews with an estimated spend of approximately $700 million.
New Board of Directors
In accordance with the Plan, a new Board of Directors was appointed and includes Chairman Michael Wichterich, Timothy S. Duncan, Benjamin C. Duster, IV, Sarah Emerson, Matthew M. Gallagher, Brian Steck and Doug Lawler. The Board is establishing the company's first Environmental and Social Governance Committee dedicated to ESG oversight and excellence.