The El Paso Corp. announced on Friday it is selling its oil-and-gas exploration-and-production business -- the EP Energy Corp. (EP Energy) -- for about $7.15 billion to a consortium led by Apollo Global Management LLC.

Apollo was joined by Access Industries Inc., Riverstone Holdings LLC, and other unnamed firms in entering into a definitive agreement to buy EP Energy under certain conditions.

Apollo is acquiring a company with an impressive portfolio of valuable natural resource assets, a talented management team and a remarkable group of highly skilled employees, Josh Harris, Apollo senior managing director said in a statement.

This agreement is dependent upon the completion of Kinder Morgan Inc.'s proposed acquisition of El Paso, which is expected to close in the second quarter, subject to the customary regulatory approvals. Kinder Morgan entered into an agreement to buy El Paso for about $20.7 billion last October.

Kinder Morgan, a leading energy-transportation and storage company in North America, would more than double the size of its pipeline network by purchasing El Paso.

We are pleased that this pending sale will allow the El Paso exploration and production assets to be kept intact as a single entity, said Kinder Morgan Chairman and CEO Richard D. Kinder. We thank the EP Energy employees for their efforts to build a strong company and in facilitating the sales process, he added.

The acquiring consortium is planning to finance this deal with $5.5 billion in debt, $3.5 billion in bonds and $2 billion in a loan, Bloomberg reported.