Missed GOPportunity

LeBron James isn’t the only one taking his talents back to Cleveland. In addition to luring the NBA star away from Miami this week, the city also beat out Dallas in its bid to host the 2016 Republican National Convention, GOP leaders announced Tuesday. Ohio’s role as a key swing state in presidential elections, as well as factors including scheduling and hotel accommodations, contributed to the Republican National Committee’s decision, the Associated Press reports. The RNC plans to host the event in June 2016, when Dallas’ proposed venue, American Airlines Center, has no available dates due to potential playoff games for both the Mavericks and the Stars.

A successful bid would likely have pumped millions of dollars into Dallas’ economy, if Tampa’s $214 million economic windfall from the 2012 convention is any indication. That event brought roughly 50,000 people to the city for four days, according to the AP. The RNC plans to give final approval to the site selection next month. 

The Bottom Line: The Dallas Morning News took the announcement in stride, clearing the air in a tongue-in-cheek memo to GOP leaders that referred to Cleveland as “a town built on unions and mediocre sports teams.” Other highlights from the editorial include: “Good luck finding the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, Big Tex or one decent plate of barbecue or Mexican during your convention,” and, “no matter how much fun you have, when you wake up, you’ll still be in Cleveland.”

Qatar Hero

One of the Middle East’s smallest nations is making big moves in the Texas gas industry. Qatar Petroleum International, in partnership with Irving-based Exxon Mobil, is seeking federal approval to begin exporting liquefied natural gas from a facility near Port Arthur, The Houston Chronicle reports. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has only issued export permits to two other companies thus far, and the joint venture, Golden Pass Products, filed an application this week in hopes of becoming the third. Qatar—the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas—owns seventy percent of Golden Pass, while Exxon controls thirty percent. 

The Bottom Line: The company plans to spend about $10 billion to construct the terminal over the course of five years if it receives approval, which could come in late 2015, according to the Houston Business Journal. 

The Urge to Merge

Texas companies completed more merger deals in the first half of 2014 than they have in any six-month period for the last decade—including a thirty percent bump over the same period last year. Citing data collected by the research firm Mergermarket, the Texas Lawbook reports that “at least 255 mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and divestitures” have gone through so far this year, and M&A experts predict “the second half of 2014 may be even better.”

That figure includes only Texas-based companies that were targets of acquisitions, but not those that did the acquiring—such as Dallas-based AT&T, which announced plans in May to buy DirecTV for $48.5 billion. The Lawbook also notes that despite the increased number of deals, their total dollar value actually decreased from $64.6 billion in the first two quarters of 2013 to $45.5 billion this year.

The Bottom Line: Analysts have attributed the M&A rally to the improving national economy, which has reinvigorated Wall Street and opened up credit markets in recent months. Transactions among Texas energy firms accounted for about 75 percent of the deals, and the healthcare sector also saw an uptick in merger activity as “the Affordable Care Act has created a resurgence in deal-making among health care companies seeking to add services,” according to the Lawbook. 

Winners of the Week: Thirtysomething Energy Tycoons

In addition to revitalizing Texas’ natural gas industry, the fracking renaissance has lured a wave of young talent into the state’s energy sector. As entrepreneurial types in their twenties and thirties head to the state to take advantage of the red-hot drilling market, the average age of the oil and gas workforce is beginning to shift downward in a trend known as “the great crew change,” Bloomberg News reported this week. And the industry could use the new blood: More than seventy percent of its employees are at least fifty years old, according to a recent survey.

Part of the reason for the age gap, Bloomberg explains, was the oil market slump from the mid eighties through the late nineties—a time when many industry veterans discouraged their children from entering the field. But now, “young entrepreneurs are forming companies to trade everything from minerals to leases and wells to equities,” often in partnership with seasoned mentors who are many years their senior.