Tidewater files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it seeks to cut debt

U.S. offshore support vessel owner Tidewater has filed voluntary petition under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

The move is intended to help Tidewater pursue a prepackaged plan of reorganization in accordance with its previously announced restructuring support agreement (the “RSA”) with certain lenders to “effectuate a comprehensive balance sheet restructuring.”

The company last week said it had entered into a debt restructuring support agreement with certain consenting creditors.

The U.S.-based vessel company has entered into the deal with lenders under its Fourth Amended and Restated Revolving Credit Agreement, dated as of June 21, 2013, and holders of Tidewater Senior Notes to put into force a proposed prepackaged plan of reorganization of the company.

As part of its debt restructuring plan, Tidewater plans to reject certain sale-leaseback agreements for leased vessels currently in the company’s fleet, and to limit the resulting rejection damages claims to approximately $131 million.

However, the Sale Leaseback Parties dispute the amount of the rejection damages claims and a final resolution of the amount of such claims will be subject to litigation, Tidewater said.

“As a result, there is no certainty as to the final amount of sale-leaseback rejection damages claims that will be treated pursuant to the Prepackaged Plan,” the company added.

The prepackaged plan is supported by lenders holding approximately 60% of the outstanding principal amount of loans under the Credit Agreement and Noteholders holding 99% of the aggregate outstanding principal amount of the Senior Notes. Collectively, these supporting Lenders and Noteholders also constitute a majority in number of the holders of General Unsecured Claims.

 

Debt reduction

 

Announcing its agreement with creditors last week, Tidewater said the plan would substantially deleverage its balance sheet and better position Tidewater “to weather the extended downturn in the offshore energy industry while maintaining the company’s position as a worldwide market leader in offshore vessel services.”

Tidewater expects that it will eliminate approximately $1.6 billion in principal of outstanding debt.

Under the plan, the consenting creditors will receive their pro rata share of $225 million of cash; common stock and, if applicable, warrants to purchase common stock, representing 95% of the pro forma common equity in reorganized Tidewater, and new 8% fixed rate secured notes due in 2022 in the aggregate principal amount of $350 million.

Furthermore, Tidewater’s existing shares of common stock will be cancelled, and the existing common stockholders of Tidewater will receive their pro rata share of common stock representing 5% of the pro forma common equity in reorganized Tidewater.

The existing shareholders will also be granted six year warrants to buy purchase additional shares of common stock of reorganized Tidewater.

These warrants will be issued in two tranches, with the first tranche (the“Series A Warrants”) being exercisable immediately, at an aggregate exercise price based upon an equity value of the Company of approximately $1.71 billion, and the second tranche (the “Series B Warrants”) being exercisable immediately, at an aggregate exercise price based upon an equity value of the Company of $2.02 billion, Tidewater said. The tranches will enable the existing shareholders to buy a number of shares equal to 15 percent (7.5% per tranche).

Business as usual

 

Tidewater expects to continue to operate the business as debtors-in-possession under the jurisdiction of the Bankruptcy Court and fully expects to continue existing operations and maintain staffing and equipment as normal throughout the court-supervised financial restructuring process.

“Tidewater has filed a series of motions with the Bankruptcy Court to ensure a seamless transition into chapter 11 and has sought the approval of the Bankruptcy Court to continue paying prepetition employee wages and salaries and to provide employee benefits without interruption. The Company continues to work closely with its suppliers and partners to ensure it meets ongoing obligations and business continues uninterrupted,” the company added.

Jeffrey M. Platt, Tidewater’s President and Chief Executive Officer states, “After much thought and successful negotiations with certain of our economic stakeholders, we decided that commencing the chapter 11 cases was necessary to create financial stability which would allow Tidewater to remain a formidable competitor given this unprecedented industry downturn. Throughout the chapter 11 process, we anticipate meeting ongoing obligations to our employees, customers, vendors, suppliers, and others. We will continue to provide our customers with dependable, high-quality services.”

To support and effect the restructuring, Tidewater has filed applications to retain, among others, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP as restructuring counsel, Jones Walker LLP as corporate counsel, Lazard Frères & Co. as investment banker, and AlixPartners, LLP as restructuring advisor.

Subject to the approval of the Bankruptcy Court, the Prepackaged Plan is expected to be consummated in approximately 45 days.

“Tidewater believes it has adequate liquidity to maintain its operations in the ordinary course and does not intend to seek any debtor-in-possession financing during the pendency of the bankruptcy cases,” the company said.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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