Seadrill Partners acquires West Polaris drillship for $540 million

Seadrill Ltd. has entered into an agreement with Seadrill Operating LP, the 58%-owned subsidiary of Seadrill Partners LLC, pursuant to which Seadrill Operating will acquire all of the shares of Seadrill Polaris Ltd., the entity that owns and operates the West Polaris ultra-deepwater drillship from Seadrill. The West Polaris acquisition is expected to close within seven days.

The West Polaris is a sixth-generation, dynamically positioned drillship delivered from the Samsung shipyard in 2008. The West Polaris is expected to carry out operations in Angola until the end of its contract with ExxonMobil in March 2018.

The total consideration for the West Polaris acquisition comprises $204 million in cash and $336 million of debt outstanding under the existing facility financing the West Polaris. Seadrill Operating will fund the balance of the purchase price with a seller's credit of $50 million due in 2021 that carries an interest rate of 6.5% per annum.

Based on the assumed present value of the seller's credit, excess dayrate to be paid to the company under the current drilling contract and assumed excess dayrate to be paid to the company following the conclusion of the current drilling contract, the company's board of directors believes that the total value proposition of the West Polaris acquisition for Seadrill is $750 million. 

The West Polaris is currently contracted with ExxonMobil on a daily rate of $653,000. Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, Seadrill Polaris has agreed to pay Seadrill any dayrate it receives in excess of $450,000 per day, adjusted for daily utilization, for the remainder of the ExxonMobil contract. Assuming an average economic utilization of 95%, Seadrill will receive approximately $60 million in cash per year from the current ExxonMobil contract. Additionally, Seadrill Polaris has agreed to pay Seadrill 50% of any dayrate above $450,000 per day, adjusted for daily utilization, after the conclusion of the existing contract until 2025.

As part of the acquisition agreement, Seadrill Operating's obligation to repay the $50 million seller's credit due to Seadrill will be reduced if the average contracted dayrate under any replacement contract is below $450,000 until the seller's credit's maturity in 2021. The amount of seller's credit due will be reduced until Seadrill Partners' effective dayrate is $450,000 or until the seller's credit is reduced to zero. Should the average dayrate of the replacement contract be above $450,000, the entire $50 million seller's credit must be paid to Seadrill upon maturity of the seller's credit in 2021. 

By agreeing to sell the West Polaris to Seadrill Partners, Seadrill is able to realize $204 million in cash upon closing of the transaction while retaining up to $203,000 per day in revenues under the current drilling contract without the associated operating expense. Additionally, following the conclusion of the current contract, Seadrill will continue to have a degree of exposure to future dayrates by sharing revenues above $450,000 per day with Seadrill Partners, again without the associated operating expense.

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