Notable Mergers and Acquisitions of the Day 02/21: (LINE)/(LNCO)/(BRY) (VMI)

February 21, 2013 10:18 AM EST Send to a Friend
* LINN Energy, LLC (Nasdaq: LINE), LinnCo, LLC (Nasdaq: LNCO) and Berry Petroleum Company (NYSE: BRY) announced the signing of a definitive merger agreement pursuant to which LINN and LinnCo will acquire all of Berry's outstanding shares for total consideration of $4.3 billion, including the assumption of debt. The transaction, which is structured as a stock-for-stock merger of Berry with LinnCo followed by the acquisition of the Berry assets by LINN, is expected to be tax-free to Berry shareholders. This transaction represents the first ever acquisition of a public C-Corp by an upstream LLC or MLP.

Under the terms of the agreement, which was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of LINN Energy, LinnCo and Berry, LinnCo has agreed to issue 1.25 common shares for each common share of Berry outstanding prior to the merger. The consideration to be received by Berry shareholders is valued at $46.2375 per Berry share based on LinnCo's closing price as of February 20, 2013. This represents a premium of 19.8 percent to the Berry closing price on February 20, 2013, and a premium of 23.1 percent to its one month average price at that date.

The acquisition, which is expected to be tax-free to Berry's shareholders, is structured as a stock-for-stock merger. In connection with the merger Berry will be converted into an LLC. Upon completion of the merger, LinnCo will contribute the Berry assets to LINN in exchange for LINN units.

In connection with approval of the contribution from LinnCo to LINN Energy, the boards of directors of each company formed a conflicts committee to evaluate any potential conflicts that may arise between LINN and LinnCo. To ensure the independence of each of the conflicts committees, two directors resigned from the LinnCo board of directors to serve on the LINN conflicts committee and two directors resigned from the LINN board of directors to serve on LinnCo's conflicts committee. In addition, in connection with the transaction, one representative of the board of directors of Berry will be appointed to the board of either LINN or LinnCo.

The transaction is subject to the approval of the shareholders of Berry and LinnCo and the unitholders of LINN Energy, as well as customary closing conditions, including clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended. The transaction is expected to close by June 30, 2013. The combined company will be headquartered in Houston, Texas.

In order to avoid immediate tax on LINN's acquisition of the Berry assets, LinnCo incurred a deferred tax liability. Because of the incremental costs for LinnCo resulting from this deferred tax liability, LINN has agreed to pay LinnCo $6 million per year for three years (2013, 2014 and 2015) or roughly $0.06 per LinnCo share. Due to the significant estimated shield provided by LINN to LinnCo, LinnCo's cash tax liability is estimated to be zero for the last two quarters of 2013. In future periods, assuming current estimates for taxable income and capital spending, management estimates that LinnCo's tax liability will be in the range of 2 percent – 5 percent of dividends paid, which is the same as the estimates provided in the prospectus for the LinnCo IPO. Therefore, this transaction is not estimated to give rise to any additional tax liability for LinnCo over and above the guidance that was previously provided. LINN's management and board have also agreed to evaluate the need for any additional payments from LINN Energy to LinnCo should taxes be higher than expected.

LINN expects that the completion of this transaction will trigger change of control provisions in the indentures governing Berry's existing senior notes. These change of control provisions entitle holders of the notes to receive 101 percent of par for the notes plus accrued and unpaid interest from a change of control offer related to each series of notes. LINN expects any of Berry's notes not tendered pursuant to the change of control offers to remain outstanding following the transaction, subject to any opportunistic refinancing of such notes it may pursue in the future based on market conditions.

Citigroup Global Market Inc. acted as exclusive financial advisor to LinnCo, and provided a fairness opinion to the LinnCo board of directors; Latham & Watkins LLP acted as legal advisor to LINN Energy and LinnCo. Greenhill & Co., LLC provided a fairness opinion to the conflicts committee of the LINN Energy board of directors; Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP acted as legal advisor to the conflicts committee of the LINN Energy board of directors. Evercore Partners provided a fairness opinion to the conflicts committee of the LinnCo board of directors; Locke Lord LLP acted as legal advisor to the conflicts committee of the LinnCo board of directors. Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor to Berry Petroleum Company and provided a fairness opinion to the Berry Petroleum Company board of directors. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz acted as legal advisor to Berry Petroleum Company.

* Valmont Industries, Inc. (NYSE: VMI) announced the sale of Bilston Investments Proprietary Limited, a South African holding company acquired as part of the Delta plc acquisition. All the outstanding shares of Bilston were sold to three South African purchasers for a total purchase price of $30 million. Bilston served as a South African holding company for Delta plc and held 49% of the outstanding shares of Manganese Metal Company, a non-consolidated subsidiary.

Bilston contributed $5.1 million after tax to Valmont in 2012. The Company does not expect the profit or loss on the sale to be material, although certain deferred tax benefits approximating $3 million associated with the sale are expected to be recognized in 2013.

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