Seadrill again on the verge of bankruptcy, extends $14bn debt talks

Seadrill

Offshore drilling contractor Seadrill again delayed restructuring its $14 billion in debt and liabilities on Wednesday and reiterated that Chapter 11 bankruptcy was likely.

Once the biggest offshore rig firm by market value and the crown jewel in the business empire of Norwegian billionaire John Fredriksen, Seadrill shares have fallen 99 percent from a September 2013 peak.

The company’s business has struggled as energy firms have slashed investment due to a more than 50 percent fall in the price of crude oil since 2014.

“(Seadrill) has reached an agreement with its bank group to extend the comprehensive restructuring plan negotiating period until Sept. 12,” the firm said in a statement, pushing back a previous July 31 deadline and the latest of several delays.

The company is negotiating with more than 40 banks, including Norway’s DNB, Sweden’s Nordea and Denmark’s Danske Bank, as well as with bondholders and several rig-building yards.

In April, Seadrill warned its shares would lose almost all of their value and its bonds would be hit as it was preparing for potential bankruptcy proceedings.

“We continue to believe that implementation of a comprehensive restructuring plan will likely involve Chapter 11 proceedings,” it said on Wednesday.

The company said such a plan would require a substantial impairment or conversion of its bonds, impairments and losses for other stakeholders, including shipyards, while shareholders are likely to receive a minimal recovery for their shares.

Seadrill’s shares were up 2.5 percent at 0738 GMT, against an Oslo benchmark index on signs that the talks to resolve the situation were ongoing. But the outcome of talks remains uncertain and the latest delay shows the complexity of finding a solution with so many parties involved, Erling Tveit, a Fearnleys credit analyst, said.

“It shows that the process takes a long time,” Tveit said.

Seadrill shares, which reached an all-time high of 289 crowns in 2013, were trading at 3.67 crowns at 0738 GMT.

The company has rigs under construction at Samsung and DSME shipyards in South Korea, Jurong in Singapore, and Dalian and COSCO in China.  

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