Takeover specialist Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. has reached agreement to buy UN Ro-Ro, a leading Turkish shipowner, for $1.3 billion.
The deal, the largest acquisition of a Turkish company by a private equity group, underscores the attraction of Europe's booming short sea shipping business to outside investors.
New York-based KKR has acquired 97.6 percent of UN Ro-Ro, which operates nine roll-on/roll-off ships between Turkey and Europe and has four more vessels on order.
UN Ro-Ro was established by Turkish trucking companies in 1993 after the start of the war in the former Yugoslavia which made road transport from Turkey to Europe difficult and dangerous. Its ships carry trucks and trailers to Trieste, with their drivers flying to the north Italian port to pick up their rigs for onward journeys across Europe.
UN Ro-Ro handles more than a third of the two-way trade between Turkey and the European Union and generated revenues of around $175 million in 2006. It operates a port in the Turkish town of Pendik and is building another terminal in Ambarli.
The company retained Citicorp in November, 2006 to sell a majority holding. The acquisition requires approval from regulators in Turkey, Italy, Austria and Germany.