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Fitch lowers Seacor credit rating on new debt sale

NEW YORK (AP) -- Fitch Ratings lowered its credit rating on Seacor Holdings Inc. on Wednesday, a day after the offshore drilling services provider said it plans to sell $250 million in debt.

Fitch lowered its rating to 'BB-' from 'BB+'. Both ratings are non-investment grade or "junk" status.

Fitch said Seacor's business in the Gulf of Mexico is recovering at a slower-than-expected pace, and the company's decision to spin off its aviation services business instead of conducting an initial public offering eliminates the prospect of a significant asset sale, reducing Seacor's credit profile.

The ratings apply to $600 million in debt held by the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., company.

On Tuesday Seacor said it plans to sell up to $250 million in convertible senior notes due in 2027. The initial purchasers will have an option to buy another $50 million in notes. Seacor said it will use $125 million in proceeds to repay debt under its revolving credit facility. The rest will be used for general corporate purposes, possibly including stock repurchases or a dividend payment.

Shares of Seacor Holdings lost $2.32, or 2.6 percent, to close at $88.54.