Standard & Poor’s raised its ratings for Transocean Offshore Inc.
, renamed Transocean Sedco Forex Inc.
(See chart page 2, related story page 8) At the same time, Standard & Poor
’s assigned to the company an ‘A-1’ short-term corporate credit rating, an ‘A-1’ rating for its $500 million commercial paper program, and a single-’A’ rating for its $400 million term loan maturing December 2004.
The company’s ratings are removed from CreditWatch with positive implications, where they were placed on July 12, 1999, upon the announcement that un-rated Schlumberger Ltd. would spin off its marine drilling unit and combine it with Transocean. That merger was completed on Dec. 31, 1999.
The outlook is stable.
The ratings for Houston, Texas-based Transocean Sedco Forex reflect the company’s strong business position as one of the world’s largest and most technically advanced oil and natural gas offshore contract drillers, with a large, well-positioned premium rig fleet; relatively clear revenue visibility; and a strong balance sheet. These strengths are somewhat offset by the financial risks inherent in the contract drilling industry, which relies on highly cyclical capital spending patterns of exploration and production (E&P) companies.