Parker Drilling not for sale: CEO

NEW YORK Thu Jun 7, 2007 4:15pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Parker Drilling Co. (PKD.N), whose stock has risen with other oil and gas drillers amid sector-wide takeover speculation, is not positioning itself to be sold, Chief Executive Robert Parker said on Thursday.

"The company is not for sale," Parker told the Reuters Global Energy Summit in New York.

"It's always a board decision ... but we're not positioning ourselves to be sold. We're positioning ourselves to increase our shareholder value," he said.

Shares of Parker Drilling fell 3.87 percent, or 46 cents, to close at $11.42 on the New York Stock Exchange, after sliding as much as 1.3 percent earlier in the day.

Parker shares have been boosted by speculation that the company is a takeover target and reached a year high of $12.10 on June 4. The stock has risen more than 40 percent so far this year while the broader Philadelphia Stock Exchange oil index .OSX gained 25 percent during that time.

While the sector has been the subject of much speculation regarding industry mergers and acquisitions, Parker said that the deep water drilling sector probably does not need to consolidate.

"Personally, I don't feel there's a lot of need for M&A on the offshore deep water efforts," he said, explaining that the sector does not have too many players.

He also said that because valuations have risen in the group since last year, the company has turned more to building than buying for growth.

Parker Drilling, which has a market capitalization of about $1.3 billion, competes with much larger drillers such as the world's largest driller Nabors Industries (NBR.N), Helmerich & Payne (HP.N) as well as Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. (PTEN.O), Grey Wolf Inc. GW.A and Nicklos Drilling Co.

"We have found that this last year or so it is easier and more economic to build our rigs ourselves," Parker said.

The company has done acquisitions in the past when the oil and gas business was in a down cycle, and he said the company may begin making purchases when the cycle turns again.

"Whenever this business does slow down out there, we would like to be in shape to keep an eye out to see if there are things we could add to asset mix to help make this a better company," Parker said.

(For summit blog: summitnotebook.reuters.com/)