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Fredriksen in Seadrill discussions with China Merchants

State-run China Merchants Group is looking at buying up cheap offshore rig operators, according to a report carried on Bloomberg.

The report states China Merchants is looking at John Fredriksen’s Seadrill as well as Shelf Drilling, however officials at the group’s headquarters denied the claims when contacted by Splash today.

Splash understands however that Seadrill has held discussions with China Merchants, a diverse group that has rig builder CIMC Raffles among its many assets.

“Fredriksen is trying to make them refinance, without making his banks take a haircut,” a source told Splash of the China Merchants discussions. Seadrill bondholders are likely to take a hit in the potential deal being hatched.

The 18-month restructuring of Seadrill has been the most complex financial manoeuvre in John Fredriksen’s 50-plus year career in shipping, the tycoon revealed earlier this year. Seadrill, with debts of more than $10bn, said last month it would file for chapter 11 by September 12.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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