BreitBurn Energy Partners, the debt-strapped Los Angeles oil partnership, has obtained $1 billion in financing from EIG Global Energy Partners of Washington D.C., the company announced late Sunday.
BreitBurn has also once again slashed its distribution to shareholders by 50 percent, down to 50 cents. That follows another 50 percent cut in January; overall, the distribution is down more than 75 percent from the $2.08 a share payout last year, before oil prices tumbled.
In addition, BreitBurn has cut the size of its credit facility to $1.8 billion from $2.5 billion. That move came as the company’s lender was expected to lower the company’s borrowing limit next month.
All these moves are aimed at making BreitBurn’s massive $3.2 billion debt load more manageable and allowing the comapny to pursue acquisition deals. Much of the existing debt came from the company’s purchase last year of QR Energy of Houston for nearly $2 billion in cash and stock.
But the moves did not satisfy the markets. Wunderlich Securities downgraded the company from “hold” to “sell,” with a price target of $4, and BreitBurn shares fell 6 percent Monday to close at $5.55.
The deal with EIG Global Energy, a spinoff of TCW Group of Los Angeles, is in two parts: $350 million of convertible preferred stock and $650 million in senior secured notes. The preferred stock will be issued at $7.50 a share, with monthly distributions of 8 percent per year; the distributions will be made either in cash or – for the first three years – additional preferred shares.
The senior secured notes, due in 2020, will pay 9.25 percent interest.
Breitburn expects to use the net proceeds from the deal – about $938 million – to pay down its credit facility. Even with the reduction in that facility’s size, the big payment will leave BreitBurn with the capacity to borrow up to $575 million. Halbert Washburn, the company’s chief executive, said the ability to borrow that much more will allow BreitBurn to potentially buy other energy firms or oil fields
“The series of actions announced today bolster our financial flexibility and align us with an experienced energy investor partner to help execute our vision and avail ourselves of strategic opportunities as they arise,” he said. “This transaction provides valuable pro forma excess liquidity for Breitburn and gives us the ability to opportunistically pursue strategic acquisitions in the current depressed commodity price environment.”
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