The consolidation of the bulk shipping market accelerated after Hong Kong-based World Wide Shipping on Tuesday offered $1.45 billion for control of Bergesen, the leading Norwegian shipowner.
World Nordic, a Danish firm controlled by World Wide, bought a 39 percent stake held by two Bergesen family stockholders for around $407 million, paving the way for the acquisition of the outstanding shares which trade on the Oslo stock exchange. Another World Wide company, Tauro, acquired a 10.11 percent stake in Bergesen a year ago.
Bergesen's board said it hasn't decided whether to recommend the offer, adding that World Nordic's announcement is only a statement of intent, not a formal bid. But shareholders are expected to accept the bid which is close to 100 percent of the company's net asset value and is 28.6 percent above its closing share price on Friday.
Bergesen, which has a fleet of 89 vessels, including 64 gas carriers, 12 tankers and nine dry bulk vessels, and 3,500 employees, made a net profit of $22 million on revenues of $584 million in 2002.
Privately-held World Wide Shipping, established in 1955, is one of the world's largest tanker and bulk operators.
- Bruce Barnard