Seadrill Said to Hire Houlihan, Morgan Stanley on Debt Talks

  • Driller seeks to restructure $11 billion of loans and bonds
  • Traders send company's shares surging the most in three weeks

Seadrill Ltd., the offshore driller with the biggest debtload, hired Houlihan Lokey Inc. and Morgan Stanley to advise it in negotiations on restructuring $11 billion of loans and bonds, two people familiar with the matter said.

Bank lenders to the company formed a committee this month to lead the talks and appointed adviser Lazard Ltd. and law firm White & Case, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Offshore drillers are struggling to repay debt as competition and reduced spending by oil companies hurt profits. Falling demand for rig services is forecast to reduce sales at the world’s largest offshore contractors by 25 percent this year and at least 10 percent in 2017, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Andrew Cosgrove.

Spokesmen at Seadrill, Houlihan Lokey, Lazard, Morgan Stanley and White & Case declined to comment on the appointments.

Seadrill has $2.6 billion of unsecured bonds and $8.4 billion of bank facilities. Almost $3.5 billion of debt is due by the end of next year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company’s $948 million of bonds due September 2017 are quoted at about 45 cents on the dollar, the data show.

Shares Surge

Seadrill’s shares rose as much as 8.4 percent in Oslo on Wednesday, the biggest increase in three weeks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The company, controlled by billionaire John Fredriksen, aims to have a plan agreed with bondholders and banks by the end of June, Chief Executive Officer Per Wullf said in an interview on Feb. 26. Getting to a deal will be complex, in part because Seadrill has more than 40 bank creditors across a dozen syndicates, Wullf said.

The restructuring may include a debt-for-equity swap, Bloomberg Intelligence’s Cosgrove wrote on March 24. Analysts including Janne Kvernland of Nordea Bank AB say the plan may involve the issue of at least $1 billion in new equity.

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