Joele Frank handles Southwestern Energy Co. as its agrees to merge with Chesapeake Energy Corp in an all-stock deal valued at $7.4B that creates the largest natural gas producer in the US.

Chesapeake CEO Nick Dell’Osso said the combination forms “the first U.S. based independent that can truly compete on an international scale.”

He said the deal allows the partners “to deliver more natural gas at a lower cost, accelerating America's energy reach and fueling a more affordable, reliable and lower carbon future.”

Bill Way, Southwestern CEO, said shareholders will be “able to participate in the substantial value creation and future growth opportunities of the combined company, with one of the top shareholder return frameworks in the sector.”

The Chesapeake/Southwestern merger is the first major natural gas deal in the wave of US energy consolidation that has focused on oil companies.

More gas deals are anticipated as Chesapeake and Southwestern account for only seven percent of US gas production.

Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher’s Andrew Siegel and Jed Repko represent Southwestern.