Meeting Discusses SemGroup Reorganization

Monday, December 22nd 2008, 8:00 am
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The savior of SemGroup visited Tulsa on Monday.

Last week, New York billionaire John Catsimatidis took control of the company's board of directors. He was in town today to talk with SemGroup management about re-organization.

Catsimatidis also spoke with the company's employees, and told them they will keep their jobs.

Since the company filed for bankruptcy, SemGroup employees have been waiting patiently for some good news.

On Monday, they may have gotten it. After taking over its board of directors, billionaire John Castimatidis announced that he has no plan to liquidate SemGroup, move it, or layoff employees.

"Don't forget, SemGroup was a good company.  There were mistakes made," said Catsimatidis.

Catsimatidis believes he is the man to correct those mistakes. The billionaire, and 215th richest man in America, made his fortune in high-end grocery stores, real estate and oil.

He returned the bankrupt United Refining Company to profitability in the 80's, and believes he can do the same with SemGroup.

"We've always done very well in getting companies that are broken, and fixing them.  Anybody can break a company, but it takes a little extra talent to fix a company," said Catsimatidis.

He says turning SemGroup around will be no easy task.

First, he will have to re-organize the way SemGroup does business.

Castimatidis discussed how to best to do that Monday with current management and then there is the estimated $5 billion the company owes its creditors.

The billionaire says they need re-assurance that SemGroup is finally heading in the right direction, and he believes he is the man to give it to them.

"Somebody has to talk to them.  And it has to be somebody they trust.  If I have their trust, I think they'll be willing to work with us," said Catsimatidis.

Catsimatidis says he first heard about the bankruptcy when he was informed that SemGroup owed him one million dollars. So he admits that it took him a while to warm to the idea of acquiring the company.