By Joshua S. Hill
March 8, 2017 - Publicly-owned Pennsylvania-based fossil fuel energy company Consol Energy is reported to be moving ahead with plans to divest its coal business, a transaction which could be worth as much as $2.8 billion or more.
Bloomberg is reporting that Consol Energy, a Pennsylvania-based energy producer which bills itself as “one of the largest independent natural gas exploration, development, and production companies,” has hired advisers from Credit Suisse Group AG and Bank of America Corp in an effort to move ahead with its desire to divest its coal business. The Standard & Poor’s Midcap 400 Index member has previously said that it is making the move to divest its coal business so it can focus on its natural gas business.
According to Bloomberg, Consol is still discussing whether to turn its coal business into a special dividend to shareholders, or sell the business outright. Bloomberg, quoting anonymous sources familiar with the matter, said that Consol is also contemplating selling off some of its infrastructure assets as part of the deal, which could theoretically see the overall cost of the transaction soar past the estimated $2.8 billion.
“As announced on our earnings call in January, we are pursuing different approaches for separating our E&P and coal businesses, including the possible sale of the coal business to a third party or the spinoff of the coal business to Consol’s shareholders,” said Brian Aiello, a spokesman for the company.
Consol Energy has not received a lot of attention as a fossil fuel company, but was nevertheless named as one of the top twenty thermal coal mining companies that breached Norway’s 2015-announced 30% divestment threshold — a promise to divest from any company that generates more than 30% of its income or electricity from coal. This was nearly two years ago, and even at the time it was reported that Consol was selling its coal assets and moving to focus on natural gas.
Last year, it was reported that the World Coal Association had also lost Consol Energy as one of its members, adding to a continuing trend that has seen the coal industry lose some of its lobbying steam.