The family-owned German shipowner Harren & Partner has reached an agreement with Japanese shipping major ‘K’ Line to take over the latter’s heavy-lift carrier SAL, headquartered in Hamburg, along with its fleet of 15 multipurpose heavy-load vessels.
The deal was closed after lengthy negotiations, which are believed to have been dragging on since autumn 2016, and will come into effect from tomorrow, 27 July, according to a statement issued by Harren & Partner on Wednesday.
The Bremen-based owner of a diversified fleet of container vessels, dry cargo ships, tankers, and other types is already active in heavy-lift shipping both as asset owner and operator of ships through its group affiliate Combi Lift.
The joint fleet of Harren and SAL comprises 26 units, 23 of which will fall under central commercial management by SAL in the future. The employment of the other three units remains unclear. They may be operated within the BHS pool, which was jointly set up by Harren and Leer-based owner Briese a few years ago.
The company’s managing director, Martin Harren, said in a press release that SAL’s integration into Harren & Partner would allow it to take a more dominant position in the premium heavy-lift segment, which would help increase “pricing discipline” in the sector. Freight and charter rates in the project cargo/heavy-load segment reached new lows early this year, with average vessel earnings far below daily running costs.
The purchase price was not disclosed. Harren’s management was also not available to clarify the financing of the transaction and whether ‘K’ Line itself and/or the financing banks of SAL’s ships will remain involved as lenders to Harren for the takeover.
The company has a track record of co-operating with private equity investors and investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan for some years. It has also just placed newbuilding contracts for a number of tugboats and barges to support project cargo shipments for the Amur gas processing plant project in eastern Russia at a time when most other German shipowners are struggling to cover their daily expenses.
The integration of SAL into Harren would see the heavy-lift carrier assume all control over heavy-lift vessel operations within the group, while sister company Combi Lift would switch its focus to project logistics, engineering, decommissioning, and salvage solutions, the group said.
Source IHS Fairplay