Part of Tulsa's SemGroup Saved

Monday, December 15th 2008, 2:41 pm
By: News On 6

By Jennifer Loren, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Bankrupt energy giant, SemGroup, will be reorganized thanks to a New York businessman who stepped in to save the company.

The self-made billionaire has taken on the company with hopes of revitalizing its assets instead of liquidating them.

If the plan works 2,000 jobs currently at risk would be saved and SemGroup would stay in Tulsa.

The LPGA and the Tulsa Ballet are just two of many organizations that benefited greatly from SemGroup's generosity through the years.

Now that SemGroup is bankrupt one of those partnerships may return the favor.

Tulsa businessman Matt Coughlin is the former CFO of the Tulsa Ballet.

"And saw firsthand the generosity of SemGroup and the amount of money that SemGroup donated to the ballet and what a great thing it was for the community," said Coughlin.

He made a proposal to a friend and billionaire in New York City.

John Catsimatidis is the chairman of Red Apple Group and plans to breathe new life into SemGroup LP.

In fact, Catsimatidis owns several businesses, including the profitable United Refining Company, which like SemGroup, he acquired when its parent company was bankrupt.           

"Sem, basically, we believe, was a good business model and a viable business entity. And the hedging and trading was the problem we believe. We don't know all of the specifics because it's a private company and we don't have access to all of that information yet," said Coughlin.

Catsimatidis has obtained five of the nine seats on SemGroup's management committee which is equal to their board of directors.

The ailing SemGroup had planned to liquidate all of its assets to give creditors what they could. But Catsimatidis wants to revitalize those assets instead.

He says he'll work with creditors to come up with a viable plan for reorganization.

"The next step after speaking to the creditors is to develop a plan of reorganization and petition the bankruptcy court to reorganize the company rather than liquidate it," said Coughlin.

If all goes well Catsimatidis and Red Apple Group will save 2,000 SemGroup jobs, keep the company in Tulsa and once again become one of the largest supporters of charity and the arts in Tulsa.

Former founder and CEO of SemGroup, Tom Kivisto, released a statement applauding these new developments.

"I have every expectation that SemGroup will once again stand as a leading corporate citizen of Tulsa," said Kivisto.