2001 Maritime

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October 18, 2001

Kvaerner in liquidity crunch
The troubled Kvaerner Group today announced that it was finalizing NOK 500 million (approx US $57 million) in short term loan facilities from Den norske Bank and Nordea. It said the facilities would "bridge its requirements for excess funding during October."

"According to the Group's current forecast," said a statement, "there will be a further need for excess funding around the third week of November this year. Negotiations are continuing with banks over a new facility to satisfy this requirement. Additionallky, it is expected that both the work to establish long-term financing and the proposed Rights Issue, will be close to completion at that time."

Aker Maritime, controlled by Kjell Inge Røkke, has said that it won't participate in that rights issue. Aker Maritime, with 17.8%, is currently Kvaerner's largest shareholder. It could soon lose that placing to Yukos, Russia's second largest oil company. Yukos, which at last count owner 12% of Kvaerner, now says it plans to acquire at least 25%. On Tuesday, it made an offer of NOK 15 ($1.70) a share to Kvaerner shareholders.

Yukos hasn't indicated that it will participate in the rights issue, but has said it wants representation on Kvaerner's board. An election for a new board is on the agenda for Kvaerner's upcoming extraordinary meeting on November 2. Kjell Inge Røkke is on the panel that will propose a new board on November 2. Back in May, Aker Maritime proposed a new Kvaerner board to be led by ex-Volvo CEO Pehr Gyllengenhammar, but those candidates were defeated.

Meantime, there is still speculation that Yukos and Røkke may be planning to divvy up Kvaerner between them.Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky said earlier this week that "restructuring of Kvaerner may be necessary." Should a decision be made to sell certain parts of Kvaerner, he continued "Yukos would actively consider purchasing Kvaerner's Hydrocarbons (London) subsidiary and the process technology business of Kvaerner's Engineering & Construction (London) division."

That leaves open the question of who would get Kvaerner's shipbuilding business, including Kvaerner Philadelphia.

Korean ship exports up 30%
Korea's ship exporting business is booming with a 30 percent increase through the end of September this year. But orders have declined as shipbuilders are selecting high-profit orders only, the Korea Herald reports Korea's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) as saying.

Through the third quarter, ship exports reached $7.29 billion, up 30.3 percent from the same period last year, says the newspaper.

The ministry predicted that, if the current trend continues, the year end total for ship exports will reach $9.6 billion, 17 percent higher than last year and the highest record for the sector ever.

The Korea Herald reports the ministry as saying that the move to high value ships has seen per-ton cost rose by 17.1 percent and all orders being accepted on a cash payment basis