Kvaerner ASA has postponed a planned sale of its Masa-Yards Finnish
shipbuilding unit in a new setback to its goal of exiting shipbuilding. Kvaerner said it had failed to find a right buyer for Masa-Yards, which specializes in building cruise ships and has an order reserve of $2.6 billion, and would instead concentrate on raising the unit's profitability.
"Talks (about a sale of Masa) have not led to a satisfactory agreement," the company said in a statement. "As a consequence, Kvaerner will now concentrate on carrying out the improvement program set in place to obtain satisfactory results." Kvaerner said the decision would not affect its goal of cutting huge debts.
Kvaerner had planned to sell Masa as part of a failed goal, set a year ago by new Kvaerner CEO Kjell Almskog, to dispose of all its shipyards by the end of 1999 in a sweeping restructuring.
So far it has sold nine of 14 shipyards but still has to sell major businesses including Masa
-Yards, Warnow in Germany and a yard in Philadelphia. It said it was closest to selling Philadelphia.
"People would like to see Kvaerner selling out of this shipbuilding business," one analyst said. "It has to become more focused." But the fact that Kvaerner said its debts would not rise gave some support.