Canadian Pacific Ltd. Wednesday announced the sale of 19 bulk vessels for US$149.1 million to a Bermuda-based group.

The Canadian holding company with rail, shipping and steel interests said a subsidiary's bulk fleet of 26 vessels has thus been reduced to seven ships. Its chemical and container shipping operations remain a core business.The Montreal-based Canadian Pacific confirmed that its bulk shipping subsidiary, Canadian Pacific (Bermuda) Ltd. struck a deal with B+H Bulkships Acquisition Corp., a member of the Bermuda-based Bervall and Hudner group of companies, for the sale of a substantial portion of its fleet.

This ship sale represents one of the biggest transactions in international shipping circles in recent history.

In a press release, Canadian Pacific said that when all transfers have been completed, gains to Canadian Pacific (Bermuda) Ltd. from the sale of the vessels will total about US$75 million.

Canadian Pacific (Bermuda) Ltd. retains ownership of six specialty tankers and remains committed to the carriage of caustic soda, chemicals and vegetable oils, employing the six owned vessels and several timechartered tankers. It also retains ownership of one roll-on roll-off carrier that is trading under a continuing contract.

A Canadian Pacific spokesman said, Our intent to phase down our bulk shipping operations has been known for some time. But, through Canada Maritime, we certainly intend to stay in the container business on the North Atlantic.