Offshore drillers Noble and Maersk have said they expect a necessary sale of certain jackup rigs currently located in the North Sea to obtain conditional antitrust clearance from the UK competition watchdog for their proposed merger.
Merger talks are ongoing between Noble, Maersk Drilling, and the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) ahead of the CMA’s expected publication of its phase 1 decision on April 22, 2022.
The drilling contractors said that several jackups, referred to as the “remedy rigs,” have been identified for divestment in order to obtain conditional merger consent. The rigs comprise the Noble Hans Deul, Noble Sam Hartley, Noble Sam Turner, Noble Houston Colbert, and a CJ-70 design drilling rig which, at this point, the companies believe is likely to be the Mærsk Innovator, although they have indicated it is possible the Noble Lloyd Noble could be required.
Noble and Maersk have started considering their options for divesting the remedy rigs and noted that the move does not change the financial and strategic rationale behind the merger plan and that they do not intend to change the exchange ratio agreed between them for the transaction. The duration and outcome of the CMA review remains uncertain. If conditional phase 1 clearance is granted, the merger closing could take place in mid-2022.
The proposed merger has already been approved by the competition authorities in Brazil, Norway, and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The only outstanding clearances are in Angola and the UK. Noble and Maersk anticipate the Angolan authorities will approve the deal in April 2022.