Patterson-UTI Issues Half Billion $ of New Debt to Pay Off Old Debt

Each month MDN tracks how many rigs oilfield services company Patterson-UTI Energy reports operating–as a proxy for rig count health in general and rig count health in the Marcellus/Utica in particular (see our Patterson stories here). Patterson operates many rigs in the Marcellus/Utica region, hence our interest in the company and what it does. Yesterday Patterson announced it wants to get $525 million (over half a billion dollars) for newly floated IOUs, called “notes” in the financial world. This is nothing new–for Patterson or most other publicly-traded companies in the oil and gas industry. We always marvel at how big finance works. The stated reason for floating over a half billion in new notes is…to pay off older notes. That is, they are floating new debt to pay off old debt, plus a little extra change “for general corporate purposes.” The new notes will be “guaranteed on a senior unsecured basis.” How does that work? Doesn’t “unsecured” mean “nothing backing it up”? How do you guarantee something with nothing? We’re not picking on Patterson–well, maybe just a little. We’re pointing out our own lack of understanding in how companies can continuously issue new debt for old debt. Won’t the piper need to be paid some day? Apparently today is not that day! Here’s the latest new-debt-for-old debt announcement…

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