Marine Finance Briefs

Friday, April 07, 2000
Luka, Intereuropa Call Off Merger

Slovenian shipping firm Intereuropa and port operator Luka Koper canceled a planned merger because the government was demanding the right to veto any management decisions in the new firm. The two companies had planned to merge on July 1. The state owns 51 percent of Luka, while Intereuropa is privately owned. The state's equity in the new company would have been 35.7 percent.

"There will be no merger under such conditions where the government would have the right to veto practically every management decision," Radovan Vrabec, Intereuropa's deputy chief executive, said.

He said the two companies would be ready to continue merger talks if the government eased its demands.

Vrabec said the two firms would not suffer short-term damage due to the failure of the merger.

"The merger was a long-term issue, and the damage will be felt only in three to four years when we join the European Union without having a strong logistics system," said Vrabec. Slovenia expects to be ready to join the EU by 2003.

East German Yards Seek Quota Break

The prime minister of the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania asked the European Commission to ease capacity limits imposed on eastern German shipyards as a condition for receiving state aid grants. State premier Harald Ringstorff told EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti an increase would prevent the yards' improved productivity leading to further job losses.

"Any such proposal will be looked at with the utmost care and attention, also in the light of the report concerning the situation of shipbuilding which the Commission will present ... in May," the statement quoted Monti as saying. Shipyards in the former East Germany have received massive cash injections since German unification to keep them afloat.

CP Ships Plans Acquisition Of CCAL

CP Ships has reached agreement with Thor Dahl Shipping AS of Norway to acquire Christensen Canadian African Line (CCAL). The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of April. The acquisition includes the CCAL brand and three Astrakhan-class ships, designed to carry containers, breakbulk and roll-on/roll-off cargo.

CCAL, which will operate as part of the CP Ships subsidiary, Americana Ships, offers a 21-day multi-purpose service between Montreal and South Africa under the CCAL brand.

According to Frank Halliwell, CEO of Americana Ships, "The transaction represents a strengthening of our position in the South Africa trade following the termination of Lykes Lines' relationship with SafBank and MSC. Our intention is to improve the service of CCAL and also maintain the brand."

Erik Gloersen, CEO of Thor Dahl Shipping AS (TDS) said, "The sale of CCAL is part of Thor Dahl Shipping's strategy of focusing on owning and operating pure container vessels. With the recent purchase of 3 x 3000 teu container vessels, TDS now owns five container vessels and has a minor stake in a tanker ship. TDS is set to expand its activities within container shipping."

P&O Plans Associated Bulk Carriers IPO

An initial public offering of Associated Bulk Carriers on the Oslo stock exchange is expected to take place later this year, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. officials said. P&O said it bought the 50 percent shareholding of joint venture partners Shougang Holding (Hong Kong) Ltd. and Shougang Concord International Enterprises Company Ltd. for a nominal sum, and would hold 100 percent of ABC until the IPO, when it will sell the majority of its holding.

ABC is one of the world's largest independently owned operators of Capesize bulk carriers with a fleet consisting of 22 dry cargo vessels ranging in size from 110,000-210,000 dwt with an average age of seven years, P&O said.

Stelmar Eyes Cyprus Bourse

Tanker firm Stelmar Marine Holdings Ltd. officially applied last Wednesday for listing on the Cyprus Stock Exchange.

The company was established in 1992 by Greek Cypriot entrepreneur Stelios Haji Ioannou and owns and operates a fleet of 12 tankers with an average age of eight years.

The company is planning to raise through the Cyprus Stock Exchange $54.6 million for further expansion of the fleet. The amount will be raised through the issue of 42 million new shares of face value $1 at the flotation price of $1.30, company officials said.

Some 27 million shares will be placed with private investors and 15 million will be offered to the public.

The precise amount to be offered to retail Cypriot investors will be determined next week by the Central Bank because of existing restrictions on the export of currency. "The criteria which the central bank will set for currency outflows are pending and we are expecting that next week. We are optimistic," said Haji Ioannou after a meeting with bourse officials.

International Coordinator and Adviser of the offering will be Alpha Finance. Adviser and lead Underwriter will be Sharelink Financial Services Ltd.

Company executives said Stelmar, which is now based in Athens and London but plans to create a small office in Cyprus, would use the additional liquidity to acquire six new tankers.

It posted a net profit of $8 million last year on a turnover of $70 million. The price to equity ratios, based on 1999 historical data, was 13 times.

Danzas Gets Stake In Finnish Logistics Group

Deutsche Post unit Danzas AG has acquired a 49 percent stake in Finnish logistics group Kelpo Keljetus Fi Oy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Finland Post Ltd., Danzas officials said. No financial details were given.

Kelpo, launched in 1999, focuses on the national transport of part-load and groupage traffic as well as parcels. It has annual sales of around 50 million euros and employs 860 staff.

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