May 24, 2017 / 7:47 AM / 3 months ago

Seadrill names new CEO, says debt talks at 'advanced' stage

OSLO, May 24 (Reuters) - Oslo-listed rig firm Seadrill announced a new chief executive on Wednesday and said its talks to restructure $14 billion of debt and liabilities had reached an advanced stage.

A veteran company insider, current chief commercial officer Anton Dibowitz, will take the helm from July 1, succeeding Per Wullf who will remain a board director, the company said.

Seadrill, once the crown jewel in shipping tycoon John Fredriksen's empire, is now in "advanced discussions" with lenders and investors on how to restructure its debt ahead of a July 31 deadline, it added.

The company reported first-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $291 million, beating analysts' expectations for $271 million but down from $528 million a year ago.

In April, Seadrill warned its shares would lose almost all of their value and its bonds would be hit as it was preparing for potential bankruptcy proceedings.

It repeated the warning on Wednesday, while adding the focus was on securing the company's future.

"We are confident that this succession plan provides Seadrill with the right combination of continuity and stability as the company works to complete its financial restructuring," Chairman Fredriksen said.

Seadrill's aim is to build "a bridge to a recovery and achieving a sustainable capital structure," he added.

The company's shares jumped 21 percent in early trade to 5.7 Norwegian crowns, but are still down 98 percent from their 2013 peak. (Reporting by Oslo newsroom; Editing by Mark Potter)

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