S&P May Cut Coflexip SA BBB-Plus Rating

Tuesday, October 31, 2000
Standard & Poor's placed on CreditWatch with negative implications its triple-'B'-plus long-term corporate credit rating on Coflexip S.A., the parent company of the Coflexip Stena Offshore group.

The 'A-2' short-term corporate credit rating was affirmed, as the long-term rating will not fall below triple-'B' The rating action follows a previous announcement that Coflexip has entered into a conditional agreement to acquire the deepwater division of Norway-based Aker Maritime ASA in a cash and debt-financed transaction set to weaken the group's previously very strong balance sheet.

The transaction, which aims to create the leading global provider of offshore solutions in the oil services industry, would cost $513 million, with an additional $112 million of net debt assumed. The funding would proceed from Coflexip's own resources and from new credit lines. The group's net indebtedness post-acquisition would represent roughly 30% of shareholder's equity. The transaction is subject to regulatory authority approval.

The transaction would have clear business merits, as it would allow Coflexip to fulfil in one stroke three of its most important strategic objectives: to increase its front-end and full-field engineering capabilities; to expand and strengthen its geographic presence in deepwater markets, particularly the Gulf of Mexico, where its presence has so far been weak; and to enlarge the scope of its technologies, services, and product offering.

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