Noble Corp’s board of directors has approved a plan to separate a business comprised of many of its standard-specification drilling units, resulting in the creation of two separate offshore drilling companies. The drilling units that would be owned and operated by the new company comprise most of the standard-specification drilling units in the Noble fleet, including five drillships, three semisubmersibles, 34 jackups, two submersibles and one FPSO. The new company would also be responsible for the Hiberniaplatform operations.
Noble will continue to own and operate its high-specification assets with particular operating focus in deepwater and ultra-deepwater markets for drillships and semisubmersibles, as well as harsh-environment and high-specification markets for jackups.
“The purpose of the separation is for Noble to move forward with our development as a robust high-specification and deepwater drilling company through continued execution of newbuilds and fleet enhancements,” David W. Williams, the 2013 IADC chairman and who will remain as chairman, president and CEO of Noble, said. “By separating these two businesses, we believe each company will be able to better leverage the overall value of its fleet by focusing on the drivers of its particular business.”
The plan approved by the board of directors involves the separation of the standard-specification business through the distribution of the shares of the new company to Noble shareholders in a spin-off that would be tax-free to shareholders. Subject to business, market, regulatory and other considerations, the separation may be preceded by an initial public offering (IPO) of up to 20% of the shares of the new company.
Consummation of the transaction is contingent upon the receipt of a tax ruling from the IRS, which Noble expects to receive soon. If Noble proceeds with the IPO as part of the spin-off, Noble expects that the new company would file a registration statement for the IPO with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in late 2013 or early 2014. The transaction is also subject to the approval of Noble’s shareholders, which the company anticipates seeking in Q2 2014. Noble anticipates that the spin-off would be completed by the end of 2014.