Wilbur L. Ross. Image courtesy of New York Society of Security Analysts/Youtube.

Famed distressed debt investor Wilbur Ross may be bargain hunting in the oil patch.

Sources told the Wall Street Journal that Ross’s firm, WL Ross, has purchased hundreds of millions of dollars in debt belonging to distressed energy firms.

Sources told the paper that WL Ross’s head of energy investing Shaia Hosseinzadeh said during an investors meeting in March that his firm had spent about $300 million on distressed energy debt.

The sources add that Hosseinzadeh said WL Ross plans to spend about a similar amount on distressed energy debt by the end of the summer.

According to investor materials seen by the Journal, WL Ross plans to take stakes in energy firms through debt investments and also acquire companies or assets through traditional buyouts.

WL Ross has reportedly been seeking a debt for ownership swap in Breitburn Energy Partners.

Breitburn filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May of this year.

Sources also told the Journal that WL Ross has been purchasing debt belonging to Texas-based Permian Resources in the event that the firm has to hand creditors an ownership stake during a restructuring.

Permian Resources is a stand-alone operating company founded by the late Aubrey McClendon.

The firm was previously known as American Energy – Permian Basin.

Permian Resources has not indicated that it will seek a restructuring deal.

According to a report published earlier this month by the law firm Haynes Boone, 90 exploration and production firms filed for bankruptcy from January 2015 to July 2016.

According to the report, cumulative E&P secured and unsecured debt climbed to about $65 billion in July 2016 from about $8 billion in the prior year.

At the time of Breitburn Energy’s bankruptcy filing the company had $1.85 billion in secured debt $3.96 billion in unsecured debt, according to Haynes Boone.

A report published by Deloitte in February found that nearly 35 percent of pure-play E&Ps listed worldwide, or about 175 companies, are at a “high risk” for insolvency.


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