Swiss offshore contractor Transocean has agreed to acquire all outstanding shares of Transocean Partners, which was formed to own, operate and acquire modern marine drilling rigs.

Transocean Partners has 51% interests in subsidiary companies that own and operate three ultra-deepwater drilling rigs.

Transocean president and CEO Jeremy Thigpen said: "We are excited about this merger, as it provides significant and immediate benefits to Transocean in the form of simplified administration and governance, tangible cost savings and improved liquidity.

"The contemplated all-equity transaction is entirely consistent with Transocean's current liquidity objectives."

"We expect that common unitholders will also benefit from Transocean's significantly larger and more diverse fleet and its industry-leading contract backlog."

Upon closing the deal, Transocean will completely own Transocean Partners and acquire ownership interests in the offshore drilling rigs Discoverer Inspiration, the Discoverer Clear Leader and the Development Driller III.

Transocean Partners CEO and chief financial officer Kathleen McAllister said: "Transocean Partners common unitholders will benefit from a premium to the current unit price and receive shares in an entity with significant financial flexibility, a demonstrated access to capital and meaningfully improved market liquidity of its shares.

"Additionally, we expect that common unitholders will also benefit from Transocean's significantly larger and more diverse fleet and its industry-leading contract backlog."

Completion of the transaction is conditioned upon approval by Transocean Partners' common unitholders and is expected to take place in the fourth quarter of this year.

The transaction is expected to generally be non-taxable to Transocean Partners common unitholders.