May 23, 2019 / 3:16 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Seadrill considers selling non-core assets to reduce debt-CFO

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OSLO, May 23 (Reuters) - Offshore drilling contractor Seadrill is considering selling non-core assets, including its 15.7% stake in oil service firm Archer , to reduce its liabilities, the firm’s outgoing chief financial officer said on Thursday.

Seadrill, controlled by Norwegian billionaire John Fredriksen, emerged from U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings last year, and is betting on the offshore oil market’s recovery to repay its remaining debts and liabilities.

“Reducing leverage remains our priority,” Mark Morris told a telephone conference.

The company repurchased in April $311 million out of $880 million in 12% Senior Secured Notes due in 2025, issued as part of the Chapter 11 plan.

“It’s not a great trade secret that we have a number of core investments that we expect to keep, those being investments in Seamex and Seadrill Partners, and that there are businesses that are non-core to us, such as Archer, which was spin-out from Seadrill originally, and a joint venture Seabras with Sapura Energy,” Morris said.

Seadrill has a 50 percent stake in Seabras, which owns and operates six pipe-laying service vessels in Brazil.

“When we look at how we can continue to delever the Senior Secured Notes, there are number of things that we can do, and some of that would come from realizing some of those sales of non-core assets,” he added.

Morris, however, said the timing of a potential divestment was uncertain and the company would not rush to sell non-core assets in order to get the best value.

Seadrill’s current liabilities stood at $811 million and non-current at $7 billion, including about $5.7 billion in secured bank debt, with first payments scheduled in the first-quarter of 2020, with some deferment options.

Earlier on Thursday, Seadrill reported better first-quarter earnings than the company guided, but said it expected weaker results in the second-quarter.

Oslo-listed Seadrill shares were down by 18.5 percent, hit by a fall in oil prices and oil company stocks, while Archer shares were down by 5.7 percent by 1417 GMT.

Morris is stepping down from his position by the end of June and the company is expected to announce his replacement in a few weeks. (Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis, editing by Victoria Klesty and Alexandra Hudson)

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