TOP Tankers Sells 13 Vessels for $550M

Monday, March 13, 2006
Crude oil shipper TOP Tankers Inc. on Monday said it has sold for $550 million 13 vessels -- which will be immediately leased back under five- to seven-year contracts -- and declared a special $5 dividend. TOP shares surged on the news, gaining $3.08, or 22.3 percent, to $16.90 in premarket activity. The stock, which has traded in a 52-week spread of $11.80 to $19.79, closed at $13.82 Friday on the Nasdaq. Athens, Greece-based TOP said it expects cash proceeds of about $240 million from the deal. The company plans to use the proceeds to pay the dividend, to be distributed on March 27 to shareholders of record March 22. Another special dividend of $2.50 is expected near the end of the month, TOP said. TOP sold nine Suezmax carriers and four Handymax carriers. After the sale, TOP will operate 27 vessels, with nine fully owned and 18 chartered and fully controlled. The company said it will amortize a book gain related to the sale of about $90 million over the respective lease period.

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