Bernhard Capital Partners (BCP), Baton Rouge, La., has acquired the Baton Rouge-based downstream engineering services and Tulsa, Okla.-based heater engineering services of Willbros Group Inc. (WG), Houston.
Former Shaw Group CEO Jim Bernhard founded BCP in 2013.
WG acquired its downstream engineering services in 2009, when it bought Wink Cos. LLC, Baton Rouge. Wink's management team will be the same under BCP, including Andy Farris as CEO and Kevin Steed as president. The new company will remain in Baton Rouge and will now operate as Wink Engineering LLC.
WG has been divesting parts of the company since last year, in part to help avoid credit defaults and as investors have pushed for changes. The firm sold two non-strategic assets last year for $91 million, with the profits going toward debt paydown, according to Credit Suisse's May 7 analysis. Just last week, investors agreed to annual elections for Willbros' board of directors and re-elected Michael C. Lebens and Phil D. Wedemeyer as Class I directors.
The BCP transaction follows WG's sale of its UtilX subsidiary to Novinium Inc., Auburn, Wash., in March. Additionally, the firm is looking to sell its professional services segment, which includes the firm's midstream and mainline engineering operations, technology business, the land and survey group, and government services business.
Analysis from D.A. Davidson in May noted, "Amidst the difficult market environment and recent operating losses, [WG] management has strengthened the balance sheet and deferred covenant pressure through asset sales and stock issued to creditors. The company has imposed head-count cuts and other organizational changes and expects to cut operating expense levels by $8.5 million per quarter."
With the sale of various assets so far this year, WG paid down some of its debt, which now stands at $224 million, according to Credit Suisse.
D.A. Davidson noted WG that is "pursuing a strategy that will offer long-term recovery potential, but, given the current losses and continuing high debt levels, shareholders will face risks."
On May 5, WG reported its Q1 2015 results, which included a net loss of $9.8 million on revenue of $346.9 million.