Marine Log

December 15, 2006

Germanischer Lloyd fends off Bureau Veritas takeover attempt

Billionaire businessman Guenter Hertz has bought 40 percent of the shares in Hamburg-headquartered classification society Germanischer Lloyd. The move scuttles a takeover attempt by Paris-based Bureau Veritas, a subsidiary of France's Wendel Investissement

According to a release from the Executive Board of Germanischer Lloyd "The binding purchase offer by the Hamburg entrepreneur Guenter Herz, with secure long-term perspectives for the Society, met with the approval of shareholders who were willing to sell. More than 40 percent of the shares changed hands. The Executive Board of Germanischer Lloyd has already approved the transfer of these registered shares."

Last week, Herz made all shareholders a firm and unconditional offer, with the aim of safeguarding the independence of the society and its Hamburg location.

Executive Board Member Rainer Schoendube welcomed this development: "This is definitely the best course of action for our maritime and industrial customers, because they will still be able to rely on our high standard of safety and quality in the years to come."

Executive Board Member Dr. Hermann J. Klein noted: "Now we will be able to concentrate on our real work again: enhancing the safety, quality and profitability of shipping."

Today, the Executive Board and Supervisory Board convened a second meeting for shareholders to provide further details about the future business development of the society.

Forbes ranks Herz as 382 in its list of the world's richest people. Along with his mother and three brothers and sister, he inherited a fortune from his father, coffee magnate Max Herz. After what Forbes describes as "a nasty family feud," Guenter--who the eldest son--and his sister Daniela sold their stake in the family's Tchibo holdings to their mother and three brothers.

They bought a 25 percent holding in sportswear manufacturer Puma AG.

Herz sits on the Puma supervisory board, which may indicate that he would not be a passive owner of Germanischer Lloyd.

He's a horse racing fan who has his own stud farm.