OSLO, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Owners of unsecured bonds in rig firm Seadrill have posted a cash deposit to back an alternative financial restructuring, paving the way for talks with the drilling operator over its future, the two sides said on Monday.
Seadrill, once the largest drilling rig operator by market value, filed for bankruptcy protection in a U.S. court on Sept. 12 after being hit hard by cutbacks in oil company investment following a steep drop in crude prices.
The company's main owner, Norwegian-born billionaire John Fredriksen, drew up Seadrill's original $1.1 billion restructuring plan with Centerbridge Partners L.P. and a group of hedge funds in September.
A U.S. bankruptcy court in Texas had been scheduled to hold a preliminary hearing on Fredriksen's plan on Jan. 10, but this has been postponed until Feb. 1 after the payment of a deposit for a rival solution.
A bondholder familiar with the rival scheme told Reuters the cash deposit amounted to almost $100 million and that postponement of the hearing could open a window for discussions.
A Seadrill spokesman said the company was looking forward to talks.
"We will have more time now for the discussions with all interested parties," he added.
A plan to hold a final confirmation hearing by the Texas court on March 26 hasn't changed, Seadrill added.
Some holders of unsecured claims, including shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries, have expressed objections to the disclosure statement that accompanied Seadrill's plan.
The U.S. Trustee, a government bankruptcy watchdog, also said that Seadrill should disclose more information related to its plan, including on transactions that benefited company insiders before it filed for bankruptcy.
The court is not obliged to follow the Trustee's recommendations. (Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by David Goodman)