Seacor scoops PE cash

Seacor Holdings has pocketed $150m from a private equity injection into its Jones Act tanker fleet.

Avista Capital Partners has invested the cash to take a non-controlling interest in the company in a deal which will help fund three newbuildings, a statement said.

Oivind Lorentzen, chief executive of Seacor, says Avista is a natural partner given its extensive experience in the energy market.

Lorentzen said: "This transaction ensures additional capital for new construction and positions the company to order additional equipment as market opportunities develop."

Seacor says the deal involved establishing of a joint venture covering a fleet of 10 ships.

Seven of those ships, including two chartered vessels, are already in the water.

The three newbuildings involved are vessels Seacor has been building at National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) for delivery in 2016 and 2017.

Steven Webster, co-managing partner and chief executive of Avista Capital Partners, said: "The US is projected to continue to experience significant oil and liquids production growth.

"This growth is creating incremental demand for Jones Act tonnage, as current pipeline and rail infrastructure are not sufficient to handle the expected ramp up.

"With our capital investment and Seacor's experienced team, with whom we have worked closely in the past, our joint venture will be very well positioned to meet this increasing demand and capitalize on future growth opportunities as a result of the strong and improving fundamentals in the Jones Act industry."

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and Blank Rome  served as legal advisors to Seacor and Vinson & Elkins and Winston & Strawn advised Avista on the deal.