GULF OFFSHORE 2002
Ferry giant increases holdings
Finnish and Swedish interests have exercised options that will require Sea Containers to take its 50% holding in Finnish RO/RO ferry operator to 76%, at a price of approximately US $36 million. Sea Containers says it intends to acquire the balance of Silja's shares by tender offer to the remaining shareholders.
Meantime, at the behest of Sea Containers, Silja has made a preliminary offer to acquire Compania Trasmediterranea S.A., the Spanish state owned ferry company which is being privatized.
Trasmed has a fleet of 24 ships and operates passenger, car and freight trailer services from mainland Spain to the Balearic Islands, from the South of Spain to Mediterranean North African ports, from Cadiz to the Canary Islands and within the Canary Islands. In many respects Silja's services are similar in the Baltic to those of Trasmed in Iberia.
According to Sea Containers president James B. Sherwood, Silja has been invited to the next stage of the privatization, along with several other bidders. He noted, however, that none of the other bidders has the same strong credentials in the ferry business as Silja. He indicated that Silja may include a Spanish partner in its final bid. A transaction, if concluded, would probably not take place until late in 2002. Silja has agreed to retain the existing work force other than for retirements and voluntary severance.