Consolidation across High North


Scandinavia has seen a wave of new acquisitions of regional shipping companies, including Alfa Capital and Siberian Coal Energy Company (SCEC) acquiring 25% of the shares in Murmansk port, Russia’s biggest Arctic harbour, from the Russian state.

Port of Narvik had expressed an interest in Murmansk in 2011, but could not match the €55 million paid by Alfa Capital and SCEC for the 25% stake on offer. The acquisition raises SCEC’s ownership in Murmansk port to 67% of shares and votes. 

Based on nine months’ figures, the port is expected to handle 18 million tonnes of cargo in 2012, representing a growth of 25% on corresponding tonnage for 2011. Coal shipments, mined in the Urals, represent some 80% of all freight moved through the port. 

In a Danish-Swedish deal, Maersk Tankers sold its Small Northwest Europe (SNE) segment to Thun Group. 

The SNE had been managed by Broström Shipping, Maersk Tankers’ wholly owned Swedish subsidiary. Some 12 of the 13 ships involved in the deal were already 50% owned by Thun, while Broström owned the other 50%. 

“We are in a process of simplifying and streamlining our business, and this includes focusing on fewer segments going forward. This divestment opportunity comes at the right time and under the right conditions,” said Hanne Sørensen, CEO of Maersk Tankers.

A change of ownership is also on the horizon for Norwegian shipyard Bergen Group (BG), which has found what the company describes as a “major European industrial partner”. 

The long-term plan is that the European yard will acquire a majority holding in BG’s shipbuilding operations, which are expected to show an operating loss of €28 million in 2012.

“We have been searching for an industrial partner with ship hull building capacity and competence in Europe, and we now have a memorandum of understanding with a well-established international group,” said BG CEO Terje Arnesen.

And Bergen Bunkers has found itself at the end of a successful takeover bid from OW Bunker, an acquisition reinforcing OW Bunker’s position as a major supplier of marine fuel and lubricants backed by a fleet of some 32 vessels.