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Noble board approves plan to separate drilling business

Noble announced that its board has approved a plan to separate a business comprised of many of its standard specification drilling units, resulting in the creation of two separate and highly focused offshore drilling companies. The drilling units that would be owned and operated by the new company comprise most of the standard specification drilling units in the Noble fleet. The plan approved by the board of directors involves the separation of the standard specification business through the distribution of the shares of the new company to Noble shareholders in a spin-off that would be tax-free to shareholders. The separation may be preceded by an initial public offering of up to 20% of the shares of the new company. If Noble proceeds with the IPO as part of the spin-off, Noble expects that the new company would file a registration statement for the IPO with the SEC in late 2013 or early 2014. The transaction is also subject to the approval of Noble's shareholders, which the company anticipates seeking in 2Q14. Noble anticipates that the spin-off would be completed by the end of 2014.