Seadrill says debt talks may leave owners with nothing

By Nerijus Adomaitis

OSLO, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Offshore drilling rig contractor Seadrill's SDRL.OL ongoing attempt to restructure its massive debt could leave current shareholders with minimal or no ownership at all, the Oslo-listed company said on Tuesday.

Demand for exploration and drilling has fallen further during the COVID-19 pandemic as oil firms seek to preserve cash, idling more rigs and leading to additional overcapacity among companies serving the industry.

Seadrill, controlled by Norwegian-born tycoon John Fredriksen, said it has failed to convince its 43 lenders to adjust the terms of its $5.7 billion bank debt.

"As a consequence, we did not proceed with the bank consent and have retained financial and legal advisors to prepare for a comprehensive restructuring of our balance sheet, such a restructuring may involve the use of a court-supervised process," it added.

Among Seadrill's peers, London-based Valaris and Noble Corp filed for Chapter 11 debt restructuring earlier in August, and U.S.-based Diamond Offshore did so in April.

Luxembourg and Houston-based Pacific Drilling PACD.N has also said it is considering Chapter 11 as an option to address its long-term liquidity.

Seadrill, which itself emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy court proceedings in 2018, has seen its shares drop more than 98% in the last two years.

The company had total debt and liabilities of $7.3 billion at the end of the second quarter, with operating loss for the quarter reaching $88 million from a $73 million loss a year earlier.

Seadrill said it expected the slump in offshore drilling demand to continue at least until mid-2021, with utilisation levels and rig day rates continuing to fall in the coming quarters.

Out of Seadrill's 35 drilling rigs, 21 were idle at the end of the second quarter.

In June, Seadrill wrote down the value of its rigs by $1.2 billion and said it planned to scrap 10 rigs.

(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Terje Solsvik and Christopher Cushing)

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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