Tony Petrello taps into M&A experience to deliver big results to Nabors

Over the course of the last 30 years, Nabors Industries has gone from a company in serious trouble to one of the major players in the oil services industry. Through a series of important strategic decisions, its current CEO, Tony Petrello, has led the company to become one of the most important firms in the directional drilling space and high-tech oil platform applications.

Petrello started out with the firm back in the early 90s. At that time, he was working as a mergers and acquisition attorney for Baker McKenzie, one of the most important law firms in the country. Throughout that period, the company was going through a time of restructuring after having recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Petrello was recruited to become the chief financial officer of the firm. He was one of the most qualified candidates that the board of directors had ever seen. With a Juris Doctor degree from Havard Law Schools and an MS in mathematics from Yale, Petrello was a highly impressive candidate who the board of directors believing he would be the right man for the job. They would ultimately be proved dramatically right.

Petrello immediately began making serious changes at the company. One of the first things he did was to radically shift the direction in which the company was focusing its research and development resources. Petrello saw the enormous potential of hard oil plays, such as those found in the Bakken Shale formation in North Dakota, as the United States slowly but inexorably depleted all of its soft oil reserves. These hard oil plays were given their name due to the fact that they require high-tech equipment and extremely specialized drilling platforms, something that few companies at that time were able to provide. Petrello decided to go into this market with a full head of steam.

Petrello was also able to make serious inroads with the company’s finances. One of the major projects that he has undertaken in an executive role was the restructuring of Nabors Industries into a Bermuda limited liability corporation. This move was met by serious resistance from the board of directors and the shareholders, who were gravely concerned that reincorporating in Bermuda would curtail their rights as shareholders and make it more difficult for them to exert influence over the direction of the company. But Petrello ultimately prevailed, saving the company billions of dollars in tax liabilities every year. Under his watch, the stock price has increased by almost 100 times.

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