$1.3 billion gas shipping merger in works

Written by Marine Log Staff
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Image: Navigator Holdings

Navigator Holdings Ltd. (NYSE: NVGS), says it has signed a non-binding Letter of Intent with Naviera Ultranav Limitada to merge the Ultragas ApS fleet and business activities with Navigator. Navigator says the transaction would unite two leading gas shipping companies with similar culture and mindset and is expected to enhance Navigator’s marine transport services. The combined fleet would total 56 vessels, which would enhance Navigator’s capability to provide flexibility and support to its customers.

It is expected that Navigator would issue approximately 21.2 million new shares of its common stock to Ultranav, and assume Ultragas’ net debt of approximately $197 million, as well as its net working capital. The combined entity would have an aggregate net asset value of approximately $1.3 billion, based primarily upon desktop appraisals by maritime brokers.

After giving effect to the proposed issuance of its new shares of common stock to Ultranav, Navigator is expected to have a total of approximately 77.1 million shares of common stock outstanding, of which Ultranav would own approximately 27.5% and BW Group would own approximately 28.4%.

David Butters, Executive Chairman of the Board of Navigator, commented: “We are delighted that the von Appen family, with its long history in global shipping, are entrusting their modern LPG fleet to Navigator. The combination will result in a LPG and petrochemical shipping company with unmatched scale and diversification. The Ultragas fleet will significantly strengthen our position in the handysized sector and provide our customers with greater flexibility in transporting smaller parcels in a cost-advantaged basis.”

Butters commented further: “We look forward to having Ultranav’s Chairman, Dag von Appen, join our Board at the time of closing of the proposed merger. Dag’s extensive experience and noted success in running a broad-based shipping platform will provide Navigator with valuable insight and guidance as we develop our shipping and logistics infrastructure businesses. Together with Mr. Von Appen, Peter Stokes, a current Board member of Ultranav and former Senior Advisor and head of Shipping at Lazard, is also expected to join the Navigator Board at time of closing.”

In addition, under an earlier agreement dated and disclosed December 2020, a second BW Group nominee, Andreas Sohmen-Pao, Chairman of BW Group Limited, will join its board.

Dag von Appen, Chairman of the Board of Ultranav, commented: “We have been following the journey of Navigator closely since it was founded in 1997, and we acknowledge and respect the results achieved by Navigator since then and especially David’s long-standing vision and dedicated work in developing the company to become the worldwide leader in petrochemical gas transportation.”

Key benefits of the transaction, according to Navigator, are:

  • The transaction is expected to be accretive compared to Navigator’s standalone budgets, in terms of anticipated revenue, EBITDA and EPS.
  • Ultragas’ fleet of seven modern 22,000 cu.m semi-refrigerated vessels, five 12,000 cbm ethylene vessels and six gas carriers in the 3,770-9,000 cu.m range will broaden the service offering for the combined fleet. With the addition of these vessels, Navigator will be better positioned to engage new clients and new markets through increased coverage and geographical reach.
  • The combination would have reduced the average age of Navigator’s fleet to nine years, as at December 31, 2020.
  • The combined fleet and increased scale is expected to provide significant cost synergies and efficiencies throughout the business.
  • Navigator expects to maintain financial strength and a strong balance sheet.
  • The combination would add another major shareholder with long-standing experience in the maritime industry, which Navigator believes will be to the benefit of its shareholders.

The transaction is subject to the execution of a definitive share purchase agreement, approval by the boards of directors of both Navigator and Ultragas, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. The parties anticipate closing the transaction by the end of the second quarter of 2021.

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