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Oilfield services firm Weatherford to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

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(Reuters) – Oilfield services provider Weatherford International Plc, burdened by a heavy debt load and years of losses, said on Friday it would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The company, which at its peak was valued at more than $50 billion (£38.4 billion), never recovered from the 2014 oil price collapse. Efforts under Chief Executive Officer Mark McCollum to quickly sell assets and pare debt struggled.

Weatherford expects to reduce its long-term debt by more than $5.8 billion, through the restructuring.

Weatherford’s shares plunged 61% to 14 cents in extended trading on Friday after the company reported the plan to seek protection from creditors and a wider quarterly loss.

For the period ended March 31, it posted a loss of $481 million, or 48 cents a share, compared with a loss of $245 million, or 25 cents, a year earlier. Revenue fell 5.4 percent to $1.35 billion.

Rising losses had left Weatherford without access to suitable financing and sparked the departure of key employees, it said in a securities filing. It failed to hit first quarter cost reduction targets due to “market headwinds” and difficulties cutting its manufacturing operations, it said.

Weatherford provides oil-and-gas well construction and completion, drilling and evaluation, and production services. It had about 26,000 employees at the end of March.

When asked on an earnings call in February if it was considering filing for bankruptcy protection, McCollum, the former finance chief of rival Halliburton, said, “I don’t waste a lot of time thinking or planning how to fail.”

Weatherford reported total liabilities of $10.6 billion and assets of $6.52 billion on March 31. It has not reported a quarterly profit in four years.

The company said it expects to enter into two processes of debtor-in-possession financing, including a revolving credit facility of up to $750 million provided by banks or other lenders and a loan facility of up to $1 billion.

Weatherford said it will continue operating its businesses without any disruption to its customers and other partners.

(Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru and Gary McWilliams in Houston; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Rosalba O’Brien)

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