DealZone

We got gas!

Hot on the heels of Consol Energy’s agreement to buy Dominion Resources’ Appalachian natural gas properties for $3.48 billion in cash, a source tells us Indian energy major Reliance Industries wants to team up with Atlas Energy to develop gas operations in the same hot area of the U.S.: Marcellus Shale.

Independent oil and gas company Atlas has been seeking a partner for its operations in the energy-rich region, and Reliance has been hungry for a deal for months, having been rebuffed twice in efforts to take over foreign firms.

Atlas’s core Marcellus position consists of 266,000 acres largely in southwestern Pennsylvania. The Marcellus Shale spans parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York and could hold enough natural gas to satisfy U.S. demand for a decade, according to some geologists.

But while Americans hoping for energy independence routinely sing from the “drill-baby-drill” hymn book, some of the more protectionist-leaning will doubtless note that the gas in them thar hills is getting a lot of foreign attention.

Japan’s Mitsui & Co paid $1.4 billion to become a joint venture partner with Anadarko Petroleum in the area, and in 2008, Chesapeake Energy sold 32.5 percent of its holdings in the play — around 590,000 acres — to Norway’s Statoil for $3.375 billion.

Spring time for debt in Consol, PVH deals

Apparel company Phillips-Van Heusen agreed to buy fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger from London-based Apax Partners in a cash and stock deal for about $3 billion to boost its presence in Europe and Asia. It expects to use $3.05 billion debt, $385 million cash at hand, $200 million perpetual convertible preferred stock and $200 million from a common stock offering to finance the deal and refinance certain other debt.

Consol Energy agreed to buy Dominion Resources Inc’s Appalachian natural gas properties for $3.48 billion in cash, giving Consol a leading position in the growing Marcellus Shale field. It too is going to the debt markets to finance the deal, though for how much exactly is not yet known, Consol’s shares fell more than 9 percent after it said it would issue $4 billion in debt and equity to fund the purchase and development of the property.

Do two deals announced in one day make a trend? Maybe only in a blog, though CNBC’s David Faber also noted the rising use of borrowing. But it is at least probably safe to say that debt finance is appearing healthier than it has in months. With the Federal Reserve expected to say tomorrow it is ready to keep money cheap for months to come, the prospects for more of the same are looking bright.