Offshore energy services firm Tidewater Inc. is buying Houston rival GulfMark Offshore in an all-stock deal that combines two struggling companies that emerged from bankruptcy last year.
Tidewater, which relocated from New Orleans to Houston earlier this year, will acquire GulfMark for about $340 million in stock, expanding its board from seven to 10 members to give GulfMark three seats.
The combination creates one of the largest fleets of offshore support vessels for the oil and gas sector. The offshore industry is still struggling to rebound since the recent oil bust despite higher crude prices because most of the new investments are focused on the onshore industry.
The expanded Tidewater will still be led by Chief Executive John Rynd, who took over the reins early this year. Rynd previously led the defunct Houston firm Hercules Offshore, which filed for bankruptcy twice during the bust.
Tidewater has slowly moved more of its operations to Houston over the last 10 to 15 years, but didn’t officially move its headquarters until this year to Houston’s Westchase area.
The deal is expected to close by the end of this year. The company currently would have a combined Wall Street value of about $1.25 billion. Tidewater aims to complete the merger to coincide with a projected increase in offshore oil and gas activity as the sector continues to improve from the Gulf of Mexico to Europe’s North Sea.
The deal would combine Tidewater’s 180 vessels worldwide with GulfMark’s fleet of 65 ships.
Tidewater wiped out about $1.6 billion in debt during its bankruptcy proceedings last year.