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PE-Backed Sentinel Relying on Ex-Schlumberger, Weatherford Execs to Build Business

A newly formed oilfield services firm, backed by private equity (PE) and run by the former chief of Schlumberger Ltd. and a top executive of Weatherford Ltd., is ready to break into the marketplace following a familiar game plan.

Houston-based Sentinel Energy Services Inc., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) formed by affiliates of Houston-based CSL Capital Management, is relying on a method that other blank check operators have been using in recent months: private money and a proven management team.

Sentinel is led by Chairman Andrew Gould, formerly CEO and later chairman of Schlumberger Ltd., who retired and then became nonexecutive chair of BG Group plc until its takeover by Royal Dutch Shell plc.

Sentinel CEO Krishna Shivram until recently was CFO of Weatherford Ltd. and for a brief period interim CEO. Shivram was odds-on favorite to take over as Weatherford’s chief until Halliburton Co. CFO Mark McCollum was tapped for the position last March.

According to Sentinel’s preliminary prospectus filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company is stalking a “merger, amalgamation, capital stock exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses...”

“Although we may pursue an acquisition opportunity in any business or industry, we intend to capitalize on the ability of Andrew Gould, Krishna Shivram and other members of our management team and the broader CSL platform to identify, acquire and operate a business in the energy services and equipment industry...and specifically to focus on opportunities in the oil and gas services industry where our CEO’s networks and experience are suited.”

The strategy “will be to identify, acquire and, after our initial business combination, build a company in the energy services and equipment industry that complements the experience of our management team and can benefit from its operational expertise.”

CSL’s plan to launch the company on Nasdaq under “STNLU” is designed to recoup at least $300 million at $10/share. The strategy mirrors recent energy-focused SPACs also created with private funding and also run by titans of the U.S. energy industry.

Riverstone Holdings LLC earlier this year turned to retired Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Chairman Jim Hackett to lead Silver Run Acquisition Corp. II in a Nasdaq sale that initially raised $900 million.

Silver Run II followed Silver Run 1, launched by Riverstone in February 2016 and led by former EOG Resources Inc. CEO Mark Papa. Papa's Denver-based company, rebranded as Centennial Resource Development Inc., is a Permian Basin-focused explorer.

Last April, PE giant Tarrant Capital IP LLC formed TPG Pace Energy Holdings and secured former Occidental Petroleum Corp. CEO Stephen Chazen, who retired last year, to lead.

“We are not prohibited from pursuing an initial business combination with a company that is affiliated with our sponsor, officers or directors,” Sentinel’s filing stated.

CSL’s previous investments in the energy sector have included Independence Oilfield Chemicals, PyraMax Ceramics, Mission Well Services and Patriot Proppants. 

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