Offshore oil and gas driller Noble Corp. Plc said on July 31 it has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to restructure debt, following a historic fall in energy prices.

The company entered into a restructuring support agreement with two ad hoc groups of the largest holders of the company's outstanding bond debt regarding a consensual financial restructuring transaction that will significantly deleverage the company's balance sheet and position the company for long term growth.

The agreement outlines, among other things, a comprehensive plan for the elimination of all of the company’s bond debt, which currently represents over $3.4 billion of debt, through the cancellation and exchange of debt for new equity in the reorganized company. As further support for the deleveraging transaction, the company's major bondholders have agreed to invest $200 million of new capital in the form of new second lien notes.  

In addition, the company is expected to emerge with an enhanced liquidity position supported by a new $675 million secured revolving credit facility to be provided by its current syndicate of revolving credit facility lenders, with JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, as administrative agent. The significant reduction of debt and annual interest expense, combined with a strong liquidity position, will enable the company to reorient itself toward future growth and value creation for all stakeholders.

In order to implement the restructuring transaction, the company and selected subsidiaries have filed voluntary petitions for relief under chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. 

The company has sufficient capital to fund its worldwide operations and does not require additional post-petition financing at this time. Noble plans to continue to operate as normal and without interruption for the duration of the restructuring and will continue to pay employee wages and health and welfare benefits as well as vendors in the normal course.

“Along with many other businesses in our industry, Noble has been affected by the severe downturn in commodity prices which has been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. After many months exploring our strategic options, we concluded that a substantial deleveraging transaction implemented through a Chapter 11 filing, supported by our largest creditors, provides the best outcome for Noble and our stakeholders. Our improved balance sheet and liquidity position will enable us to further invest in our assets, customer relationships and our people,” Robert Eifler, president and CEO, said.

The company expects the reorganization plan to be confirmed by this fall, allowing it to emerge from chapter 11 before the end of the year.