Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., based in Phoenix, said Wednesday it is paying $6.9 billion in cash and stock for Plains Exploration & Production Co. and $2.1 billion for McMoRan Exploration Co. The miner also will assume $11 billion in debt in the deal.Plains Exploration, based in Houston, produces oil in California, Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, along with natural gas in Louisiana. McMoRan Exploration, based in New Orleans, is developing natural gas resources that lie deep below shallow water regions of the Gulf of Mexico.
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