Energy Business

CONSOL Sells Coal Assets, Suspends Dividend

Natural gas producer and coal miner CONSOL Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX) said Monday morning that it has agreed to sell its Buchanan mine in West Virginia and certain other of its metallurgical coal reserves for total consideration of $420 million, including a cash payment of $398 million when the sale closes. The buyer is Coronado IV and the transaction is funded by Energy and Minerals Group (EMG), a management company serving many specialized private equity funds.

The company also said it will suspend its regular quarterly dividend (currently $0.01 per share) once the transaction closes in order to focus on growth.

CONSOL said it will use the proceeds from the transaction, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016, to pay down debt. At the end of December, CONSOL’s long-term debt totaled $2.75 billion.

The transaction includes a total of about 400 million tons of proved coal reserves of which about 88 million tons are associated with the Buchanan mine. The rest of the reserves are included in CONSOL’s Amonate mine in West Virginia and Virginia and greenfield coal reserves in Russell County, Va., and southwestern Pennsylvania.

CONSOL has retained the rights to extract and sell natural gas and methane from the mines and other properties. In early January the company announced a cut to 2016 capex of about 41% to a range of $205 to $235 million from a prior range of $400 to $500 million. CONSOL also said it would focus on natural gas production.

The asset sale announced Monday appears to be evidence of that focus. The not-so-good news is that natural gas for April delivery posted a new 52-week low of $1.69 early Monday morning.

Shares traded up nearly 10% in Monday’s premarket session, at $8.61 in a 52-week range of $4.54 to $34.14. The consensus price target on the stock is $11.86.