Italy's Saipem steps up drilling partner search with manager change - source

MILAN, July 1 (Reuters) - Italian oil contractor Saipem is stepping up efforts to find a partner for its drilling business by moving a top manager to head the business, a source with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.

Stefano Porcari, chief operating officer at the group’s E&C Offshore Division, would be moved across to take charge of onshore drilling in August, the source said.

Saipem’s current head of onshore drilling, Francesco Racheli, would trade places with Porcari, the source said.

Porcari, who has been at Saipem for more than 30 years, is close to the group’s Chief Executive Stefano Cao who has been restructuring the company to tackle an industry downturn that has prompted a move into renewable energy.

Saipem, a subsidiary company of Italian state lender CDP and oil major Eni, is seeking joint venture deals to revive growth and underpin its balance sheet after years of falling margins.

In April, Cao said he was looking for partners for the drilling business to help fund growth while capturing the recovery he expected to see in the next few months.

Sources told Reuters this year that Saipem was trying to lure big U.S. rivals into joint ventures for its drilling business but had so far failed, although Saipem declined to comment on that issue. (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes Editing by Edmund Blair)