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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Offshore drilling company Noble Corp. files for bankruptcy

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Noble Corporation plc announced on Friday that it has entered into a restructuring support agreement with two ad hoc groups of the largest holders of the Company’s outstanding bond debt regarding a consensual financial restructuring transaction that will significantly deleverage the Company’s balance sheet and position the Company for long term growth.

Noble announced in February that it had reached a unique commercial agreement with ExxonMobil covering drilling services in Guyana where it has been active since March 2018. The agreement defines contract drilling terms for the services of three of Noble’s ultra-deepwater drillships. OilNOW understands that the move by Noble to file for bankruptcy is not likely to have an impact on its operations offshore the South American country.

Nobel said Friday that the restructuring agreement outlines, among other things, a comprehensive plan for the elimination of all of the Company’s bond debt, which currently represents over $3.4 billion of debt, through the cancellation and exchange of debt for new equity in the reorganized company.  As further support for the deleveraging transaction, the Company’s major bondholders have agreed to invest $200 million of new capital in the form of new second lien notes.  In addition, the Company is expected to emerge with an enhanced liquidity position supported by a new $675 million secured revolving credit facility to be provided by its current syndicate of revolving credit facility lenders, with JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. as administrative agent.  The significant reduction of debt and annual interest expense, combined with a strong liquidity position, will enable the Company to reorient itself toward future growth and value creation for all stakeholders.

In order to implement the restructuring transaction, the Company and selected subsidiaries have filed voluntary petitions for relief under chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas (the “Chapter 11 Cases”).  The restructuring will be implemented through a plan of reorganization that the Company expects to be confirmed by this fall, allowing the Company’s emergence from chapter 11 before year end.

The Company has sufficient capital to fund its worldwide operations and does not require additional post-petition financing at this time.  Noble plans to continue to operate as normal and without interruption for the duration of the restructuring and will continue to pay employee wages and health and welfare benefits as well as vendors in the normal course.

Robert Eifler, President and Chief Executive Officer, stated “Along with many other businesses in our industry, Noble has been affected by the severe downturn in commodity prices which has been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.  After many months exploring our strategic options, we concluded that a substantial deleveraging transaction implemented through a Chapter 11 filing, supported by our largest creditors, provides the best outcome for Noble and our stakeholders.”

Eifler said the company’s improved balance sheet and liquidity position will enable it to further invest in its assets, customer relationships and people.  “I would like to personally thank our employees for their continued dedication, as well as all of our customers and service providers for their support and partnership. We remain committed to the world class operational excellence, safety and environmental stewardship that defines Noble.”

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