Seadrill names Stuart Jackson as new CEO to lead restructuring

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OSLO (Reuters) - Seadrill <SDRL.OL> said on Thursday it has appointed Stuart Jackson as its new chief executive officer as the drilling rig contractor seeks to restructure billions of debts amid the market downturn caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Demand for oil and gas exploration and drilling has slumped during the pandemic-induced lockdown as energy firms seek to preserve cash, idling more rigs and leading to additional overcapacity among companies serving the industry.

Jackson, who currently serves as Seadrill's chief financial officer, will replace Anton Dibowitz with immediate effect, the company said in a statement.

"With a strong restructuring and transaction-based experience across the energy sector, the board views Stuart as the ideal candidate for the next phase of Seadrill'sdevelopment," the company added.

Jackson said the company had to eliminate the carrying costs of assets that will never return to the market in order to reduce its cost level and prepare for potential consolidation.

The Oslo-listed company, controlled by Norwegian-born billionaire John Fredriksen, is seeking to restructure more than $7 billion in debts, and has warned that it could involve a court-supervised process.

In June, Seadrill wrote down $1.2 billion on the value of its fleet, assuming that up to 10 of its 35 drilling rigs may be scrapped.

Among peers, London-based Valaris and Noble Corp filed for U.S. Chapter 11 debt restructuring in August, while U.S.-based Diamond Offshore did a similar move in April.

Seadrill emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy court proceedings in 2018 following the previous oil market downturn in 2014-2016.

In addition to financial woes, police last week searched Seadrill's Brazilian subsidiary amid $2.7 billion worth of contracts signed between Sapura, its joint venture with Malaysia's Sapura Energy Bhd <SAEN.KL>, and Brazil's state-run firm Petrobras in 2011.

Seadrill said it was "cooperating fully" with the probe.

(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)