(DryShips story updated to provide further commentary from the company's COO)
NEW YORK (
(DRYS - Get Report)
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
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.
|DryShips' Leiv Eiriksson, a deepwater oil-drilling vessel
Investors have been hotly anticipating the announcement of a charter deal from DryShips for some time.
That's because the charters are crucial to a drillships IPO. Only by hiring out two of the oil exploration vessels -- capable of operating at depths of up to 10,000 feet below the surface -- can DryShips guarantee the kind of cash flow necessary to create an independent company and float shares to the public.
"The time table [for a public offering] is still based on getting two charters," Khanna said. "That's the minimum requirement for doing an IPO."