Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Seeks Shale Gas Deals in Haynesville

(Bloomberg) -- Dallas Cowboys billionaire owner Jerry Jones is exploring a series of takeovers to expand his Comstock Resources Inc. in the Haynesville region as drillers return to the previously shunned shale gas play.

Executives at Comstock have been open about their willingness to do deals after Jones bought an 84 percent stake earlier this year. The company recently expressed interest in buying private equity-backed Covey Park Energy LLC, two people familiar with the situation said. Conversations didn’t reach a material stage, said one of the people.

Spokesmen for Comstock and Covey Park declined to comment on the potential deal. Jones wasn’t available for comment. Comstock shares rose the most in almost a month.

“It’s really a buyers’ market now,” Chief Financial Officer Roland Burns said on an Aug. 8 conference call. Comstock is looking “for smaller companies that really don’t have the resources to develop that acreage to join up with Comstock and put that under our umbrella.”

The slump in the price of natural gas in recent years led operators to shun the Haynesville in favor of other areas such as the Marcellus basin, where the gas is closer to the surface. But as drilling technology has improved and explorers become more efficient, the Haynesville is making a comeback. Output has jumped by 25 percent this year to reach 9.7 billion cubic feet a day in October, the highest since 2012, according to a government forecast.

Comstock climbed as much as 8.6 percent, the most since Sept. 11, and was trading 5.1 percent higher at $9.09 a share at 3:17 p.m. in New York. It has a market value of about $950 million. Jones, 75, bought a controlling stake in the company earlier this year after it clashed with hedge fund Knighthead Capital Management over debt repayments.

Jones derives the vast majority of his estimated $3.9 billion net worth from his ownership of the world’s most valuable sports team, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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