McClendon’s Former Energy Unit to Discuss Debt Overhaul

  • Ascent Resources-Marcellus creditors said to hire Moelis
  • Cortland said to step in as loan agent after Citigroup resigns

A group of Ascent Resources-Marcellus LLC creditors is in talks with the company, a legacy of Aubrey McClendon’s American Energy Partners LP, to restructure $1.2 billion of debt, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Holders of the company’s term loans hired Moelis & Co. to advise on restructuring options, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are confidential. Cortland Capital Market Services stepped in as the new agent on the first- and second-lien loans after Citigroup Inc. resigned, the people said.

Ascent Resources-Marcellus managers told investors during a Thursday conference call that they had discussed a debt overhaul with a select group of lenders, but hadn’t hired advisers, the people said. Moelis sent a memorandum to creditors in June outlining proposals for the energy exploration and production company, but no definitive agreement has been reached, the people said.

McClendon Operations

Ascent Resources-Marcellus is a subsidiary of Oklahoma City-based Ascent Resources, which was formed in 2015 by combining the holding companies of American Energy-Utica and American Energy-Marcellus. The parent company was an operating unit of American Energy Partners LP, the deal boutique founded in 2013 by Aubrey McClendon after his ouster as chief executive officer of Chesapeake Energy Corp. It’s one of the largest pure-play Appalachian E&P operators, according to the company’s website.

Jack Lascar, an external spokesman for Ascent Resources, said Citigroup resigned several months ago. Rob Julavits, a spokesman for the New York-based bank, and Ari Cohen at Moelis declined to comment. A spokesman for Cortland didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

Exploration and production companies have struggled amid a two-year slump in energy prices. As of Aug. 1, 48 oil producers had filed for bankruptcy this year, according to data from Haynes and Boone LLP. There have been 65 defaults by energy companies this year, S&P Global Ratings said in a report Thursday.

Ascent Resources-Marcellus’s $750 million first-lien loan was quoted at 47.125 cents on the dollar on Thursday, up from a March low of 16.688 cents, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The $450 million second-lien term loan was quoted at 10.188 cents. Both loans are fully drawn, the data show.

Shutting Down

American Energy Partners announced in May that it would be shutting down after the death of McClendon in a March car crash, but that five oil and gas companies that it formed would continue to operate, including Ascent.

McClendon got most of his equity funding from Energy & Minerals Group, the Houston-based private equity firm that is among Ascent’s owners. The firm also controls Permian Resources, an oil and gas producer created by American Energy Partners under McClendon, which has had most of its debt snapped up by distressed-debt investors including Apollo Global Management LLC in recent months.

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