Court Considers Offers for Bourbon Offshore Takeover

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Published Dec 10, 2019 8:34 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Tuesday, the Marseilles Commercial Court reviewed two takeover offers for OSV operator Bourbon Maritime and its parent company Bourbon Corporation. 

The first offer came from a group of Bourbon's creditors. The Société Phocéenne de Participation (SPP), a company owned by a group of French banks, holds about 75 percent of Bourbon's debt. The offer concerns 100 percent of the assets and activities of BOURBON Corporation and would lead to a debt-for-equity swap covering about $1.5 billion dollars of Bourbon's obligations and about $330 million of debt in repayable bonds. It also includes $165 million in bank financing, with $33 million available as soon as the transfer of ownership is completed in order to meet Bourbon's immediate liquidity needs. 

If this offer were accepted, holding company Bourbon Corporation would be liquidated, leading to a total loss for the firm's shareholders and bondholders. Bourbon Maritime (Bourbon Offshore) would remain in operation under a continuation plan, to include the company's "BOURBONINMOTION" digitalization and restructuring initiative. Since the group holds 75 percent of Bourbon's debt, it would be able to present a continuation plan that would already have assent of most creditors. 

In terms of governance, the SPP’s proposition would be to provide the company with a supervisory board of 8 to 10 members representing shareholders and industry experts, as well as a management board composed of Gaël Bodénès, chairman, and Thierry Hochoa.

“The court's decision, if it were to favor the SPP's offer, would lead to the liquidation of the listed company BOURBON Corporation and a total loss for shareholders and bondholders," said Jacques de Chateauvieux, Chairman and CEO. "It would make BOURBON Maritime's new shareholders responsible for the recovery of a French company, which is still the world leader in offshore oil and gas marine services, its future development and the preservation of its decision-making centers in France
A second offer submitted by de Chateauvieux on behalf of JS & Co. could not be examined. The Chinese company ICBC Financial Leasing, supporting the Société Phocéenne de Participation proposal, refused to discuss a possible agreement with JS & Co, which was a precondition required for its offer.
The representatives of the other two offerers, rig-moving logistics company Peschaud and OSV industry leader Tidewater, did not appear at the hearing. Tidewater's leaders have frequently voiced an interest in buying and consolidating its competitors, as exemplified by the firm's purchase of GulfMark Offshore (and subsequent disposition of excess assets). 

The court's final ruling is scheduled for December 23.