Premier Oil creditors vote in favour of deals, new debt structure

(Reuters) - Creditors of Premier Oil PMO.L gave the indebted oil and gas producer their approval for $800 million of North Sea acquisitions under a scheme that would allow it to delay debt repayments and issue new shares.

The vote supporting Premier’s management is a blow to hedge fund ARCM, which holds 15% of Premier’s debt and has had a growing short position in its shares since 2017, currently around 17% of its stock, some four times higher than the average for London-listed firms.

ARCM has fought a heavily publicised battle against Premier’s plans, saying they were based on too-high commodity price assumptions, too-low decommissioning liability estimates and would make Premier too dependent on a weak gas market.

An investor with a short position makes a profit on a stock when its price declines. Premier’s shares rose around 20% after it announced its plans on Jan. 7, but have since lost most of that ground to trade at 104.5 pence, up 6.4% year-to-date.

Shares in Premier Oil spiked higher following the announcement, and by 1317 GMT they were up 3.1% at session highs.

Premier needs investors representing at least 75% of its outstanding debt of around $2 billion to agree to its plans under an arrangement reached with its creditors in a debt restructuring in 2017.

Wednesday’s vote still needs to be formally approved by a judge in a hearing expected on March 17.

Of the creditors subject to the schemes, 86% of Super Senior Commitments and 83.86% of Senior Commitments have voted in their favour at the creditor meetings, Premier said, referring to different classes of bondholders.

(This story corrects to clarify percentage of senior commitments and to show creditors have voted in favour of the schemes in paragraph eight)

Reporting by Shadia Nasralla in London and Shanima A in Bengaluru; editing by Nick Macfie