ZaZa Energy Corp. company founders, or their interests, are to receive an overriding royalty interest (ORRI) in the company's future lease acquisitions in exchange for the retirement of about $50 million in debt they held, the struggling Houston-based Eagle Ford Shale player said Monday.
The news sent ZaZa's shares soaring nearly 22% to trade at around 42 cents at midday Monday on Nasdaq. ZaZa shares have been trading below $1.00 since mid-June.
"Though the founders received shareholder approval during the summer to convert the subordinated notes to common equity, we felt we could add far more value to existing common equity holders by extinguishing the subordinated notes without any form of equity dilution," said CEO Todd Brooks, one of the company founders. "By taking this step, we are eliminating nearly half of our debt, moving from about $105 million to about $55 million, again, with no dilution to current shareholders."
The 8% notes being exchanged are due in 2017 and total about $50.1 million in principal and accumulated interest. The company's three founders, all of them directors, held all the notes either directly or indirectly. They are to get 0.8% ORRI each in future lease acquisitions, representing a total ORRI of 2.4% for the three.
The ZaZa scramble to postpone maturity of the remaining debt is ongoing.
"We remain in discussions with our lenders, including the holders of our approximately $15 million senior secured notes, with whom I am diligently working to have them approve extending their maturity to mid 2016, 2017, or beyond -- the further out the better," Brooks said. "I can make no promises on this front, but I am working very hard on this. Our goal is to become an almost debt-free company sooner rather than later, and we are laser focused on that front."
ZaZa's primary assets are in the Eagle Ford Shale and Eagle Ford East resource plays in Texas.
Brooks said the company "...has the ability to grow, not just through lower risk conventional development of its current assets, but also through accretive acquisitions given the state of the industry today.
"Our industry has been drastically impacted by falling commodity prices, and this has hindered our results and drilling programs. However, this has also presented us with an opportunity to create value by acquiring distressed assets with high-growth potential as the industry rebounds."
At the end of August ZaZa disclosed that it missed an interest payment on its 9% convertible senior notes, which represent about $42 million due in 2017. The company has also appealed a recent delisting determination by Nasdaq to delay a suspension of trading in its shares that would have happened Sept. 4. A hearing is to be held Oct. 1.