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Transocean offers to acquire Aker Drilling

Transcean Ltd. offered to acquire Aker Drilling for $1.43 billion and Aker Drilling’s board unanimously recommended that its shareholders accept the offer.

If successful, the acquisition of Aker Drilling would contribute $1.05 billion in a contract backlog to Transocean. The offer hinges upon Transocean receiving the approval of at least two thirds of the voting shares of Aker Drilling stockholders.

Barclays Capital analyst James C. West called the pending transaction “positive” for Tranoscean. He expects Transocean will continue pursuing acquisitions to help replace older assets. The transaction also strengthens Transocean’s position in the North Sea, he said.

Transocean Services AS, a subsidiary of the drilling contractor, made the offer for the Norwegian Aker Drilling, which spun off from Aker Solutions earlier this year. Transocean has drilled wells off Norway since the early 1970s.

Aker Drilling operates two harsh-environment, ultradeepwater semisubmersible rigs currently on long-term contract to Statoil and Det Norske in Norway. In 2013, Aker Drilling is scheduled to take delivery of two drillships being built in South Korea.

Transocean has 14 ultradeepwater floaters working in the North Sea with 12 of those under contract, said West, who added that total utilization for the industry’s 41 floaters in the North Sea is 93%.

“We expect activity will remain high, supported by increased spending program from European independents and Statoil,” West said.

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