October 30, 2000

Aker Maritime sells deepwater division
and Canadian unit

Coflexip Stena Offshore has entered into a conditional agreement to acquire Aker Maritime ASA’s deepwater operations, headquartered in Houston, for $513 million plus the assumption of net debt estimated to amount to $112 million. The division includes the Aker Gulf Marine yard in Texas. Aker Maritime bought out a partner’s 49% holding in the yard earlier this year for $86 million.

Separately, Aker Maritime announced that its Maritime Hydraulics (MH) unit is selling its Canadian subsidiary Maritime Hydraulics (Canada) Ltd. which, despite the "maritime" in its name, actually designs and manufactures onshore drilling equipment. A memorandum of understanding has been signed with National-Oilwell Inc., and the agreed price for the take-over is C$25 million (approx. US$16.5 million)

Coflexip Stena Offshore Group says the Deepwater Division acquisition fulfills “in one stroke,” its most important strategic objectives: increasing front-end and full field engineering capabilities; expanding and strengthening its geographic presence in deep water markets, particularly the Gulf of Mexico; and enlarging the scope of technologies, services and products offered by the group.

Merging the Deepwater Division with CSO’s expertise in subsea technologies and operations will provide new opportunities that neither of the groups could have accessed independently. The Deepwater Division’s strong presence in the Gulf of Mexico and its ability to access West African markets and the Caspian Sea completes CSO’s strong operations in the North Sea, Brazil, West Africa and Asia Pacific.

CSO says it will also benefit from the Deepwater Division’s advanced technologies in offshore production support, including dry well-head concepts, and will further complement its subsea solutions. Furthermore, the Deepwater Division is one of the two companies holding exclusive rights to the SPAR technology for drilling and production in deepwater.

After this transaction, the CSO Group says it will “gain critical mass” and access a market estimated at $19 billion for the year 2000, compared with the $3 to $4 billion market size currently served.

Aker Maritime’s Deepwater Division holds a leading position in the rapidly growing international deepwater market. It provides services related to conceptual design, project management, engineering, construction and installation of offshore oil and gas drilling and production facilities. The engineering and project management services together have 1,000 employees: 500 in the Gulf of Mexico; 300 in Finland; and 200 in the United Kingdom.

The division holds a leading position in the market for drilling and production SPARs. It has been involved in all three SPAR production platforms installed to date—all in the Gulf of Mexico: Oryx - Neptune, Chevron - Genesis, and Exxon - Diana. Another three SPARs are under construction (Kerr McGee - Boomvang and Nansen, BP/Vastar Horn Mountain). The division is tendering the SPAR concept for a number of additional deepwater field developments in the Gulf of Mexico and West Africa.

The division also holds a strong market position in the engineering and construction of floating production, storage and offloading systems (FPSOs), Tension Leg Platforms (TLPs) and semi-submersible platforms. It is also known for its expertise in riser architectures and mooring systems—a critical element of deepwater developments.

Geographically, the division conducts most of its activities in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, the U.K. sector of the North Sea and in West Africa. It also has activities in the Caspian sea and has operational bases in Nigeria and Australia.

The transaction will be financed from Coflexip Stena Offshore’s own resources and by new credit lines. CSO’s net indebtedness after the acquisition should represent roughly 30% of shareholder’s equity.
In line with the strategic alliance made between CSO and Technip last April, the boards of the two companies have approved the investigation, by both companies, of the possibility of Technip’s participation in the transaction in the form of a purchase by Technip of 20% of the Deepwater Division from CSO after completion.

This operation would allow for the contribution, where appropriate, of Technip’s capabilities in the full range of floating solutions, control of the full cycle from conception through to installation (especially on the process side) and global commercial presence. CSO would, of course, remain fully in charge of the management of the Deepwater Division.

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