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Avista Capital Partners Enhances Energy Practice With Appointment of Gerhard Kurz

NEW YORK, Feb. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Avista Capital Partners, a leading private equity firm, today announced that it has hired Gerhard Kurz, a 40-year veteran of the offshore energy service and marine transportation industry, as an Industry Advisor.

Mr. Kurz was most recently President and Chief Executive Officer of Seabulk International, Inc., a provider of marine support and transportation services, in which the Avista team invested while at DLJ Merchant Banking Partners. During his five-year tenure at Seabulk, Mr. Kurz drove a twofold increase in EBITDA through improved operational performance and expansion into new business segments. Seabulk merged with SEACOR Holdings Inc. in 2005 at a share price representing an increase of more than 200% over the price when Mr. Kurz took the helm.

Mr. Kurz joined Seabulk following a 36-year career at Mobil Corporation, where he held positions of increasing responsibility in logistics, Middle East planning and marine transportation, with the last 11 years spent as President of Mobil Shipping and Transportation Company.

Steven Webster, Co-Managing Partner and President of Avista, said, "Gerhard has a well-deserved reputation as a leader in the shipping industry. He enjoyed a long and highly successful career at Mobil, where he undertook such demanding initiatives as rebuilding Mobil's tanker fleet through joint venture partnerships. When he became CEO of Seabulk, Gerhard met head on the challenges of revitalizing a smaller, resource-constrained company, and succeeded in delivering an excellent performance. As the lead investor in Seabulk, our team worked closely with Gerhard. We were very impressed with his leadership and gratified to realize such a successful investment. We look forward to the expertise Gerhard now brings to Avista and are excited to partner with him on new investment opportunities going forward."

Mr. Kurz added, "After having had such a positive experience working with the Avista team at Seabulk, I look forward to partnering with them again. Over the last 40 years, I have built strong relationships within the energy service and marine transportation industries and anticipate leveraging these associations, as well as my own operating experience, in helping Avista make strategic investments in well-positioned businesses in this sector."

Avista has significant experience in the energy sector and has consistently demonstrated its ability to execute transactions quickly and professionally. The firm closed its inaugural $2.0 billion private equity fund in June 2007 and has made investments in 19 portfolio companies broadly diversified in the energy, healthcare and media industries.

Avista's current portfolio of energy companies includes: Geokinetics, a provider of seismic acquisition and data processing services to the international oil and gas industry; Frontier Drilling, which owns and operates deepwater offshore drilling rigs and floating production vessels; Blake Offshore, which owns and operates a fleet of six offshore drilling and production units servicing the Gulf of Mexico oil and gas industry; and Celtique Energie, Laramie Energy, Manti Exploration, and Peregrine Oil and Gas, which are focused on exploration and production of oil and natural gas. In addition, while at DLJ Merchant Banking Partners, the Avista team was significantly involved in many energy investments, including American Ref-Fuel, Basic Energy Services, Caledonia Oil and Gas, Laramie Energy, Medicine Bow Energy, Michael Petroleum, Seabulk, and TXU, among others.

About Avista Capital Partners

Avista Capital Partners is a leading private equity firm with offices in New York, NY and Houston, TX. Founded in 2005, Avista manages $2.0 billion in private equity capital. Avista's strategy is to make controlling or influential minority investments primarily in growth-oriented media, healthcare and energy companies. Through its team of seasoned investment professionals and industry experts, Avista seeks to partner with exceptional management teams to invest in and add value to well-positioned businesses. For more information, visit

Contact for Avista Capital Partners:

Diana Postemsky, Kekst and Company, 212-521-4805

SOURCE Avista Capital Partners
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