McClendon Raises $1.7 Billion for Utica Acquisitions

Aubrey McClendon, the co-founder of Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) who was ousted in April, has raised about $1.7 billion from private-equity firms to acquire and develop leases in the Utica Shale of eastern Ohio.

The Energy & Minerals Group is the lead equity investor and Blackstone Group LP (BX)’s GSO Capital Partners is the lead debt provider, Oklahoma City-based American Energy said in a statement today. Other investment will come from First Reserve Corp., BlackRock Inc. (BLK), Magnetar Capital LLC and management of McClendon’s American Energy Partners LP.

American Energy plans to buy and develop 110,000 acres in the Utica and has arrangements to gather and process natural gas on all of it, the partnership said. One rig will begin drilling before year-end. McClendon left Chesapeake, the second-largest U.S. gas producer, after questions were raised about his personal borrowing from some of the company’s biggest financiers.

Drilling in the Utica deposit, where Chesapeake is the largest operator, has more than tripled in the past year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Industries.

Gathering and processing on 80 percent of the acres will be done by a joint venture of MarkWest Energy Partners LP (MWE) and Energy & Minerals, according to the statement.

Jefferies Group LLC gave financial advice to American Energy while Andrews Kurth LLP and Duane Morris LLP provided legal advice. Baker Botts LLP represented Energy & Minerals and Latham & Watkins LLP advised GSO and certain other lenders, according to the statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jim Polson in New York at jpolson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net

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