Wachtell, Vinson & Elkins and Latham lead on Chord’s $11bn Enerplus merger

Canadian firms Goodmans and Blake Cassels & Graydon also advise as consolidation in US gas and oil industry continues apace

Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz and Vinson & Elkins are advising US firm Chord Energy on its merger with Canada’s Enerplus, repped by Latham & Watkins, to create a Williston basin-focused business with an enterprise value of $11bn. 

Canadian law firm Goodmans is also advising Chord on the deal, while Enerplus has called in Toronto-based Blake Cassels & Graydon. 

The merger will create a top player in the Williston basin in North Dakota, with about 1.3 million net acres and 287,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in production.  

The Wachtell team is led by executive committee co-chair Daniel Neff and fellow corporate partner Zachary Podolsky, who is also co-leading a Wachtell team that is advising oil and gas major Hess on its $53bn acquisition by Chevron.  

Meantime the Vinson & Elkins team is being fielded by Houston-based M&A partners David Oelman, Steve Gill and Benji Barron, and the Latham team acting for Enerplus is led by corporate partners John Greer, Ryan Lynch and Bill Finnegan, who are also based in Houston.  

Under the terms of the deal each common share of Enerplus will be exchanged for 0.10125 shares of Chord common stock and $1.84 per share in cash, representing 90% stock and 10% cash consideration.   

The transaction is expected to generate cost synergies of up to $150m annually with after-tax present value up to $750m, the companies said.  

It is expected to be complete by mid-2024, with Chord shareholders set to own approximately 67% of the combined company and Enerplus shareholders the rest. The combined company will be led by Chord president and CEO, Danny Brown, who said the deal “further strengthens our Williston Basin position and represents a compelling opportunity for both companies’ shareholders”. 

The deal continues a wave of consolidation in the US oil and gas industry that helped propel energy to become the top sector by M&A deal value in 2023, as businesses move to shore up cash flows by building their portfolios with future drilling sites.  

The consolidation has provided a rich seam of work for top law firms at a time of depressed M&A markets, global dealmaking having fallen to a 10-year low of $2.9trn in 2023.  

Wachtell is working on several of the largest energy deals announced in recent months, including the Hess acquisition, which proved to be the second biggest deal of 2023 after ExxonMobil’s $60bn acquisition of rival Pioneer Natural Resources.  

So far this year Wachtell has also been called in to advise on four multibillion-dollar energy deals, including Texan shale oil company Diamondback’s $26bn acquisition of Endeavor, which is being repped by Paul Weiss and Vinson & Elkins.  

Wachtell jumped four places to fifth in LSEG’s 2023 global M&A legal advisor ranking by deal value, after working on deals worth just over $310bn. Meantime Latham worked on deals worth $385.4bn, a result that saw it rise one place to second behind Kirkland & Ellis, and Vinson & Elkins rose an impressive 16 places to 25th after working on deals worth $81.4bn. 

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