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Noble and Maersk sell North Sea rigs in $375m deal, paving way for merger

© Supplied by Noble DrillingNoble Maersk North sea
The Noble Sam Hartley

Noble Corporation (NYSE: NBL) and Maersk Drilling (CPH: DRLCO) have signed a $375m deal to sell-off several North Sea rigs to Shelf Drilling, in a move which could address competition concerns.

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) opened an investigation in February into the proposed merger of Maersk and Noble, concerned about a “substantial lessening of competition”.

However the watchdog said last month that it was assessing whether it could approve the deal given the pair’s intent to sell off several “remedy rigs”.

New York-listed Noble and Copenhagen-listed Maersk Drilling have now struck a deal to sell off those vessels to a “newly-formed subsidiary” of Dubai-based Shelf Drilling.

They are selling the Noble Hans Deul, Noble Sam Hartley, Noble Sam Turner, Noble Houston Colbert and the Noble Lloyd Noble.

Associated offshore and onshore staff are expected to transfer with the rigs, they said.

Combo in Q3

The remedy rig sale is subject to approval by the CMA and is expected to close “promptly” once given the nod.

Noble also gave some clarity on the timeline for the merger to complete, if the CMA is satisfied with the remedy.

It said: “The duration and outcome of the CMA review process remains uncertain.  If the Buyer, Remedy Rig Sale Agreement and the Remedy Proposal are accepted by the CMA, closing of the Business Combination is expected to occur near the end of the third quarter of 2022.”

The merger is also subject to acceptance by holders of at least 80% of Maersk Drilling shares, as well as the listing of Noble shares on the NYSE and Nasdaq Copenhagen.

Under the proposed deal, Maersk Drilling and Noble shareholders will own 50% each of the combined firm, which will be named Noble Corporation.

Maersk Drilling said in November that “some workforce reductions are expected as a result of the integration” but it is “too early to say” how this will impact north-east Scotland.

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