Pengrowth Energy Corp. has put up a For Sale sign as the company seeks solutions for dealing with looming deadlines on its debt in a market where new borrowing is scarce.
Pengrowth launched a “strategic review,” which it says could lead to a corporate sale, divestiture of assets, recapitalization or refinancing. It hired Perella Weinberg Partners LP and Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. as advisers.
“We are committed to being open-minded to a range of strategic and transactional alternatives to generate the best outcome for our various stakeholders,” said Pete Sametz, Pengrowth’s chief executive officer.
Pengrowth was once one of the largest and most prominent energy trusts. Its name even graced Calgary’s Saddledome, home of the NHL’s Flames. But it has struggled this decade after its transition to a regular corporation when Ottawa essentially put a stop to income trusts. Its market capitalization has fallen to $367-million from more than $4-billion in 2011. Since then it has shed several properties to concentrate on its current main operations – the Lindbergh heavy oil project in Alberta and Montney natural gas properties in British Columbia.
Resource-industry financier Seymour Schulich is Pengrowth’s largest shareholder with a 28.8-per-cent stake. He added to his position as recently as January in the face of the company’s struggles.
The strategic review comes after Pengrowth’s efforts late last year to secure high-yield debt for refinancing purposes were stymied when the market slammed shut for exploration and production companies, Mr. Sametz said.
At the time, a drop in the price of U.S. benchmark light oil and a gaping discount on Canadian heavy crude, along with a fall in the broader markets, turned lenders off.
“In fact, the high-yield market completely dried up and not one deal got done in any sector between the last week in November and the second week of January,” Mr. Sametz said during a conference call to discuss the review and Pengrowth’s fourth-quarter results.
Pengrowth shares closed down 1 per cent at 71 cents on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday, recovering from deeper losses during the session, as investors weighed the company’s prospects under tough conditions for both refinancing and corporate auctions.
Pengrowth’s predicament shows how the Canadian oil downturn, which has dragged on for more than four years, is heaping pressure on an industry that was once a reliable debt- and equity-financing machine, attracting ample money to boost capital spending and acquire rivals, while providing lucrative fees for investment dealers. Mergers and acquisitions have also slowed considerably, falling 37 per cent in 2018 to US$34.3-billion, according to Refinitiv.
Pengrowth has $59.4-million in term notes coming due in October and its $330-million line of credit is expires at the end of March. With the latter, executives said the company is close to an agreement with its syndicate on an extension until the end of September.
Mr. Schulich, co-founder of Franco-Nevada Corp., first announced in 2016 he had amassed a 14.7-per-cent stake in Pengrowth. At the time, the stock was trading for about $2, a level he characterized as “ridiculous."
"We think the stock is worth $10.”
Since then, Mr. Schulich appears to have lowered his expectations. But, undaunted, he said on Wednesday he remains confident that the market will recognize value – both in Pengrowth and its industry.
“I’m buying the stock today – right now. I can only buy a certain amount every six months, and I can only buy after they release their results. And if people want to throw the stock away, I’ll buy it,” he said in an interview. “I think the company in three years is worth $3 to $5 a share. I’m buying $5 bills for 70 cents. Pretty good. That’s how I got rich.”
Pengrowth also said it signed a letter of intent with Ironclad Energy Partners LLC, a unit of Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, which would build a co-generation plant to provide power and heat to the Lindbergh project, which pumps heavy crude with the aid of steam.
In the fourth quarter, the company lost a net $503-million, or 91 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $210.4-million, or 38 cents a share. Production dipped 2 per cent to 24,104 barrels of oil equivalent a day, after divesting assets pumping 5,250 barrels a day.
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