Crimson Exploration Files for IPO

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Natural gas and crude oil prospector Crimson Exploration Inc on Tuesday said it hoped to raise $165.6 million in an initial public offering as energy markets stabilize.

The Texas-based company acquires and develops natural gas and crude oil properties and currently has operations on the U.S. Gulf Coast, south and east Texas, Colorado and southwest Louisiana, according to a prospectus filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Another oil company, Cobalt International Energy Inc, was set to price its IPO next Tuesday, hoping to raise more than a billion dollars.

Crude oil prices have stabilized between $60 to $80 per barrel in recent months after tumbling from record highs reached in July 2008, but U.S. natural gas prices have been weak because of record inventory levels.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange index of 15 large oil companies .OIX has outperformed the S&P 500 over the past two years, but is nearing parity.

Crimson Exploration anticipates selling 18 million shares for between $6 and $8 a piece. It expects net proceeds of some $117.6 million, which it plans to use to repay debt.

Principal stockholder Oaktree Holdings, which is an affiliate of Oaktree Capital Management LLC, is selling roughly half of its shares, but will retain a majority stake in the company after the offering.

Crimson Exploration reported operating revenue of $86.3 million in the nine months that ended Sept. 30, down 43.2 percent from $151.8 million a year ago due to decreased prices and lowered production. The company’s net loss was $16.8 million compared with a $25.3 million profit a year ago.

Crimson Exploration will list on the Nasdaq under the symbol “CXPO.”

Underwriters for the offering are led by Barclays Capital and Credit Suisse. They have the option to purchase an additional 2.7 million shares. (Reporting by Clare Baldwin, Additional reporting by Matt Daily, editing by Maureen Bavdek)