September 21, 2016 / 1:41 AM / 3 years ago

Vanguard Natural Resources taps Evercore for debt reorganization -sources

(Reuters) - Oil and natural gas explorer Vanguard Natural Resources LLC has hired Evercore Partners Inc to explore options for bolstering finances as it struggles to cope with low energy prices, according to people familiar with the matter.

The appointment follows similar moves by other oil and gas companies, including California Resources Corp and Chesapeake Energy Corp, to rejigger their balance sheets to survive a two-year downturn in commodities prices.

One of the options Vanguard is considering includes finding new financing to help pay down the company’s debt, the people said. This totaled $1.8 billion as of June 30, including $1.4 billion drawn from its revolving credit facility.

After its borrowing base was redetermined this spring, the Houston-based company was overdrawn on its revolver, and had been making monthly installments to cover the balance.

The sources, who spoke last week and this week, asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Representatives of Vanguard and Evercore did not respond to requests for comment.

In a move that Vanguard may choose to replicate, California Resources last month secured a $1 billion term loan, which it used to buy back notes at a discount. Chesapeake Energy did a similar transaction with a $1.5 billion term loan.

After oil prices collapsed by more than 50 percent over the past two years, more than 100 energy producers and services companies have filed for bankruptcy.

Vanguard has also taken other steps to survive the rout. To try to push out maturities and reduce interest expense, it launched a debt swap earlier this year, but it did not garner a lot of participation among the bond holders it targeted. Its bank lenders also gave it a loan waiver in the second quarter of this year.

The company this year also sold more than 20,000 acres in a Oklahoma Scoop/Stack oil and gas play to a Dallas investment firm for $272.5 million, which it used to pay down borrowings under its revolver.

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