* Deal to buy Seahawk rigs under scanner
* SEC declines to comment
* Shares down 8 pct
(Adds SEC reaction, background)
By Krishna N Das
BANGALORE, April 8 An investigation to ascertain
if Hercules Offshore Inc bribed officials overseas
could cast a shadow on the shallow-water oil driller's plan to
buy assets of Seahawk Drilling Inc .
Houston-based Hercules said on Thursday it was being probed
by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for
potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The
Department of Justice (DOJ) was also reviewing certain of the
company's activities. [ID:nL3E7F73Q3]
"While obviously a negative, there are too few details to
ascertain the degree of damage," Raymond James analysts said in
"Does the investigation endanger the Seahawk acquisition?"
the analysts asked.
As part of its bankruptcy protection proceedings, Seahawk
intends to sell 20 rigs to Hercules for about $100 million.
Hercules -- whose international markets include West Africa,
Latin America, India, the Middle East and Malaysia -- did not
immediately reply to a voice mail seeking comment.
An SEC spokeswoman declined to comment. A DOJ spokesperson
was not immediately available to comment.
The investigation will at least be a distraction, involving
both personnel and financial resources, and though the extent is
yet to be determined, the process could be drawn out, said Matt
Beeby, analyst with Global Hunter Securities.
Late last year, Hercules' bigger rival Pride International
Inc paid $56.2 million to settle a case related to
bribing officials in Venezuela and Mexico. [ID:nSGE6B60CL]
Shares of Hercules were down 7 percent at $5.97 in morning
trade on Friday on Nasdaq. They had earlier touched $5.50.
(Reporting by Krishna N Das in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj
Kalluvila, Maju Samuel)