KKR Leads $7.2B Buyout of Energy Explorer Samson Investment

Private-equity firm KKR (NYSE:KKR) and a group of investors teamed up on Wednesday to buy private U.S. energy exploration giant Samson Investment on Wednesday in a $7.2 billion transaction.

Operating more than 4,000 wells, including many in the Gulf Coast, Tulsa, Okla.-based Samson is one of the largest privately held U.S. oil and gas explorers.

KKR was joined in the deal by a trio of partners: Japanese trading house Itochu Corp., private-equity firm Crestview Partners and investor Natural Gas Partners. The transaction does not include Samson’s onshore Gulf Coast or deep-water assets, all of which will be held onto by the Schusterman family, the company’s founding family.

“The Schusterman family has built a remarkable company with an extraordinary culture,” KKR co-founder and co-CEO Henry Kravis said in a statement. “We feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to carry on their commitment to employees, to communities, and to the safe and profitable development of domestic energy resources.”

Under the terms of the deal, which is expected to close before the end of the year, Samson’s headquarters will remain in Tulsa, but its name will change to Samson Resources. Kravis is a native of Tulsa. David Adam’s, currently Samson’s chief operating officer, will become the company’s new CEO, replacing Stacy Schusterman.

Samson, which was founded in 1971, owns interests in more than 10,000 wells and has close to 1,200 employees.

“We had two guiding principles – we wanted a partner who would value both our assets and our people. This group demonstrated its commitment to both,” Schusterman said.

A slew of investment banks served as advisors to the buyers, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch (NYSE:BAC), Barclays (NYSE:BCS), BMO Capital Markets (NYSE:BMO), Citigroup (NYSE:C), Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC). Jefferies (NYSE:JEF) advised Samson.

Shares of KKR dipped 2.2% to $11.54 Wednesday morning, outpacing a 0.86% decline on the S&P 500.