Sterling sails into shipping with Norwegian acquisition

February 19th, 2008 - 7:39 pm ICT by admin  

Chennai, Feb 19 (IANS) Serial entrepreneur C. Sivasankaran, promoter of the $2-billion Sterling Infotech Group, has now set his sails in the shipping industry by acquiring Norwegian shipping company J.B. Ugland Shipping AS (JBUS) for Rs.12 billion ($300 million). “The $150-million turnover JBUS is a profit making company and owns a fleet over 40 ships comprising tankers, chemical carriers and bulk carriers, which would give stability in earnings. The average age of the fleet is four years,” Vaidyanathan Srinivasan, director, Siva Ventures Ltd, the holding company for Sterling group, told IANS.

The transaction was agreed upon January, closed Feb 15 and announced Tuesday.

JBUS’ fleet has a capacity of 2 million deadweight tonnage (DWT).

According to Srinivasan, Siva Ventures funded the all-cash deal with a mix of equity and debt.

“The Asian market is booming and we would like to grow the company to a size of $1 billion in couple of year’s time.”

The growth would happen organically as well as inorganically, he added.

Sivasankaran, chairman of Sterling Infotech Group, said: “I believe that the shipping industry, especially the bulk commodities segment - both tankers and dry bulk carriers - will increasingly revolve around the broader Asian commodities story.”

“In particular, the bulk shipping tonnage demand from India is likely to see explosive growth on the back of the increased raw material demand for the new power and oil refining projects coming up in India, a large number of which are based on imported raw materials.”

As part of the transaction, the incumbent management of JBUS, led by its CEO Bjorn Bergsland, will continue to manage the company.

As per the deal, Siva Ventures has the rights to use the brand name of JBUS for three years and will continue trading under the J.B. Ugland name following the acquisition.

The Sterling group has interests in renewable energy (ethanol, wind energy, bio-diesel), telecom project implementation, software, food and beverages and real estate.

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