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Nabors Industries Ltd. (NBR): Pamplona Capital Closes Out Stake; Manager Alex Knaster Buys a Chunk

Alex Knaster’s Pamplona Capital declared on Friday the closing of its stake in Nabors Industries Ltd. (NYSE:NBR), the only publicly traded company in which the fund has money invested. Following the sale of 25.6 million shares of Common Stock, for $24.01 per share, in a transaction worth more than $600 million, the fund was left with no Nabors Industries Ltd. (NYSE:NBR) stock in its hands.

However, Mr. Knaster invested approximately $51.73 million of his own money to acquire 3.26 million shares of the company’s Common Stock. This stake accounts for roughly 1.1% of Nabors Industries Ltd. (NYSE:NBR)’s outstanding Common Stock, and belongs entirely to Mr. Knaster, although the fund may be also deemed the beneficial owner.

Nabors Industries Ltd. (NYSE:NBR)

Pamplona Capital used to be the largest hedge fund shareholder of record (amongst those we keep track of) at the company. Nonetheless, after this disposal, Ken Griffin’s Citadel Investment Group took the front-runner position, holding 9.12 million shares of Common Stock, worth more than $250 million. The fund last disclosed (for the second quarter of 2014) having more tripled its exposure to Nabors Industries Ltd. (NYSE:NBR).

Other major funds that have either boosted their bets or started a new position in the company are Israel Englander’s Millennium Management and Steve Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management, which last declared holding 3.86 million shares and 1.1 million shares, respectively.

Nabors Industries Ltd. (NYSE:NBR) is a $7.26 billion market cap drilling contracting company that conducts its business two segments: Drilling & Rig Services and Completion & Production Services. Although the stock lost 16.8% since the end of the second quarter, it had gained 72.87% in the first six months of the year. As the stock started to fall, Pamplona Capital decided to sell its portion, before it lost any more of its value. Still, the upside year-to-date is quite high: Nabors Industries Ltd. (NYSE:NBR) has returned 41.5% since the beginning of the year, widely outperforming the S&P 500 index, which has barely returned 7.16%.

A day after Pamplona Capital’s sale, Nabors Industries Ltd. (NYSE:NBR) announced that it would repurchase 10.37 million shares from UBS Investment Bank at $24.10 per share, for a total aggregate amount of roughly $250 million.  The shares account for approximately 40% of the position previously held by Pamplona Capital.

In relation to the fund’s departure, Tony Petrello, Nabors’ Chairman, President & CEO said “I have appreciated the presence of Alex Knaster and the Pamplona management as major shareholders during the past two years and thank them for their valuable input and support.”

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