Troubled upstream Afren confirmed Tuesday that it has tapped Morgan Stanley to put together potential restructuring plans as the company tries to ink a merger deal with Nigeria’s Seplat Petroleum Development Company.

The UK-based company said it’s in discussions with lenders and is seeking a deferral for a $50 million amortization payment due at the end of January.

Last month UK-based Afren reported that it was in preliminary talks with Seplat for a potential merger.

After Seplat put together a $1 billion financing package last week many investors expected a deal would materialize over the weekend.

Afren said Monday that it would extend the deadline for the talks to the end of January.

A financial restructuring team from Morgan Stanley is helping Afren asses its options if the Seplat deal falls apart, SkyNews said.

“There can be no certainty that an offer will be made or as to the terms of any offer,” Afren said.

Afren is also reviewing its cost base and capital expenditure plans “given the rapid decline” in oil prices since July.

The company’s lenders have reportedly asked PricewaterhouseCooper to advise them on potential restructuring options.

Last year, Afren axed CEO Osman Shahenshah and COO Shahid Ullah after the two executives were found to have accepted $20 million in unauthorized payments from third parties.

The two men paid Afren back the funds earlier this month and the company agreed to not pursue legal proceedings.


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