EQT-THQ Appalachia Latest US Energy Deal to Face Regulatory Delay

(Reuters) — Natural gas producer EQT Corp. said on Friday the U.S. antitrust regulator has asked for more information on its planned $5.2 billion buyout of THQ Appalachia I LLC and associated pipeline infrastructure.

The deal, first announced in September, is the latest in the oil and gas sector to face regulatory delays as part of the Biden administration's push to tackle soaring energy prices and better protect the customer.

Under the leadership of its latest chair Lina Khan, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has hit more deals with "second requests" - demands for additional information and documents which can delay regulatory clearance by several months.

EnCap's $1.5 billion buyout of producer EP Energy, refiner HollyFrontier's $2.6 billion merger with Sinclair Oil and pipeline operator Energy Transfer's $7.2 billion takeover of Enable Midstream were all subjected to second requests from the FTC.

"We think the deal will get done and aren't surprised by the requests in the (second request) process given the increased scrutiny in the current environment," said Gabriele Sorbara, analyst at Siebert Williams Shank, in an emailed comment.

EQT, the biggest U.S. natural gas producer, said it plans to cooperate with the regulator's request. It has begun talks with THQ's pipeline operator XcL Midstream and THQ itself to amend deal terms in case it does not close by Dec. 30 as originally planned.

If the deal does not close by year-end, it will likely receive approvals early next year, Sorbara said.

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