January 29, 2020 / 11:26 PM / 2 months ago

Blackstone's Permian oil producer Guidon explores sale-sources

NEW YORK, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Guidon Energy, an oil exploration and production company majority-owned by private equity firm Blackstone Group Inc, is exploring a sale that could value the Permian basin operator at more than $2.5 billion including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

Guidon is engaged in deal discussions with a small number of parties after receiving acquisition interest from energy companies seeking to expand their presence in the Midland portion of the Permian, in which it operates, the sources said.

Exxon Mobil Corp and Diamondback Energy are among the companies studying a possible acquisition of Guidon, three sources said, cautioning that no deal is certain.

Blackstone declined to comment. Guidon, Exxon and Diamondback did not respond to a request for comment.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity as the information is not public.

Dealmaking in the oil and gas sector has slowed in recent months, as companies eschew growth to focus on cost-cutting and returning more cash to shareholders.

Of the few deals consummated, most have been among producers focused on the Permian, an area spanning West Texas and Southeast New Mexico that has been at the heart of the U.S. shale revolution.

One transaction announced in mid-December was WPX Energy Inc's $2.5 billion purchase of Delaware basin producer Felix Energy from buyout firm EnCap Investments.

The positive reception from WPX shareholders for the Felix deal has resulted in other publicly-listed operators seeking out similar deals involving privately-held Permian players, including Guidon, three of the sources said.

Blackstone helped launch Guidon in 2016 with a $500 million investment. Guidon now holds around 46,000 gross acres, following more than 150 acquisitions and land swaps, according to its website. (Reporting by David French in New York; Additional Reporting by Jennifer Hiller in Houston; Editing by Tom Brown)

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