Danish shipper raises share swap idea

  • 2001-02-22
  • BNS
VILNIUS - The Danish shipping company DFDS Tor Line has offered the minority shareholders of the Lithuanian Shipping Company the opportunity to swap their shares for shares in DFDS Tor Line, a representative of the minority shareholders said Feb. 15.

The Danish company is also to put forward offers for the acquisition of the shipping company's shares from minority shareholders, shareholder representative Ignacas Ruginis told journalists after the meeting between minority shareholders and Peder Gellert Pedersen, DFDS Tor Line's regional business manager.

"The discussion was very constructive. DFDS Tor Line representatives, in their turn, proposed that we become shareholders of the Danish company. At our next meeting we will discuss in detail how we could become the Danish company's shareholders. In the future, they will also present proposals in what way, when and at what price they could buy our shares," Ruginis said.

Minority shareholders are asking that the buyers pay at least as much per share as they will pay for the state-owned stake in Lithuanian shipping. According to Pedersen, an additional agreement will have to be signed between DFDS Tor Line and minority shareholders if the demand is accepted.

The Lithuanian Shipping Company's minority shareholders hold a combined stake of 20.4 percent in the company, of which 10 percent of shares are owned by members of an officially registered association of shareholders.

The government expects to receive at least 204.8 million litas ($51.2 million) for a 76.36 percent stake in the company, or 5.11 litas a share.

The formal negotiations with DFDS Tor Line, which has taken over the rights and obligations from the Netherlands-based B.B. Bredo B.V., began on Feb. 7.

Bredo signed a privatization deal in Octoberª but failed to pay for the shares in the Lithuanian Shipping Company by the Dec. 1 deadline after a court action by minority shareholders prevented it from re-registering the company's ships as offshore companies in the Marshall Islands.

On the basis of the existing deal with Bredo, the government and DFDS Tor Line are negotiating the terms of a supplementary agreement, with the talks due to be completed by May 1.

Lithuania seeks to negotiate a higher price and larger investments than those agreed with Bredo. The Dutch company had pledged to pay 47.6 million dollars for the majority stake in LISCO and invest another 76 million dollars in the company, based in the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda.

The government now says that investments in the shipping company should reach at least $92 million.

Officials have pledged on more than one occasion to take into consideration the interests of minority shareholders and Lithuanian carriers while selling the country's shipping company.

Pedersen said the acquisition would help the Danish company to strengthen its positions in the Baltic Sea region ferry business. The Lithuanian Shipping Company owns six ferries operating on four routes between the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda and some ports in Sweden and Germany, as well as 29 trump vessels.