Apache Corp. (APA) was gaining Thursday after the Houston-based oil and gas explorer said it agreed to sell properties in Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma to unnamed buyers for $1.4 billion. Shares were rising 1.6% to $73.19 to cut its 2014 decline to 15%.
Apache has been selling non-core assets to focus on its most promising shale plays - and keep corporate raiders at bay. In July, the Wall Street Journal reported that Jana Partners LLC had built a $1 billion stake in the company and was calling for it to sell off its international properties to focus on its U.S. holdings.
The exploration company has often been considered a likely takeover target. In June, trader website RANsquawk reported that ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM) was looking to make a bid for the company at $115 to $120 per share. Apache denied it.
Apache is selling its working interest in 90,000 net acres in southern Louisiana that produced 21,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the third quarter, 62% of which was natural gas and natural gas liquids. The company characterized the fields as mature, with high decline rates and short reserve lives. Apache is keeping its 275,000 mineral acres in south Louisiana.
Apache is also selling 115,000 net acres in part of its Stiles Ranch field in Wheeler County, Texas, and in its Mocane-Laverne and Verden fields in western Oklahoma. Those properties produced an average of 26,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the third quarter, 83% of which was natural gas and natural gas liquids.