DryShips COO Talks Drillships IPO By Scott Eden 03/25/11
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- DryShips(DRYS_) hopes to move a step closer to selling off a chunk of its offshore energy exploration business in an IPO "within the next two quarters," the company's operating chief, Pankaj Khanna, said Thursday. In an interview with TheStreet during a shipping-industry investor conference here, Khanna said DryShips expects to win long-term charter contracts on "at least two" of the four so-called ultra-deepwater drillships currently being built for the company at a shipyard in South Korea. DryShips already has two offshore drilling vessels in operation, one in the Black Sea and the other off the coast of Ghana, in West Africa. The company's chief executive and founder, George Economou, has also come in for criticism in the past for a lack of transparency in some of his business dealings. But, these days, it's all about the drillships business, which Khanna said could eventually have an enterprise value of more than $5 billion and add another $8 to $12 to DryShips' stock price. That, however, is a best-case scenario since it assumes perfect execution on the part of the company in obtaining charter contracts and floating shares of the drillships business in a timely manner, Khanna added. If the company were to break-up and liquidate the drillships business today, he said, it would be worth up to $7 a share.