Dry CargoEurope

ESL Shipping pounces for Sweden’s AtoB@C

Shipping’s consolidation phase has turned to niche Scandinavian dry bulk names. ESL Shipping, a shipping company fully owned by Finnish conglomerate Aspo Group, is going to acquire all the outstanding shares of Sweden’s AtoB@C Shipping and AtoB@C Holding (AtoB@C). The enterprise value is EUR30m. The final purchase price will be mainly financed by Aspo’s existing financing reserves, and approximately EUR4.2m will be covered by new shares issued by Aspo. The transaction will require the competition authority’s approval in Finland to be completed and should be completed in the third quarter of this year.

AtoB@C operates 30 vessels ranging in size from 4,000 dwt to 5,000 dwt. It owns six dry cargo vessels in full, and it has a share of 49% in two other vessels. The other 22 vessels are time-chartered. In 2017, AtoB@C posted net sales of EUR79.3m and an operating profit of EUR3.2m. The cargo AtoB@C carries mainly consists of raw materials and products of the forest industry, products of the steel industry, fertilizers, recyclable materials, biofuels and minerals. The head office of AtoB@C is in Ystad, to the east of Malmo.

With the transaction, ESL’s cargo volume carried will increase from approximately 11-12m tonnes to approximately 16-17m tonnes.

“The transaction will further reinforce the position of ESL Shipping in the category for smaller vessels, and its business will strengthen considerably with new customers and new product flows,” ESL said in a release today.

The acquisition would give ESL a fleet of 50 ships, including those on order, equating to 468,000 dwt.

“Aspo’s strategy is to develop leading companies in its field. The acquisition will shift ESL Shipping to a new size class and put it in a good position to improve operational efficiency and overall profitability of the shipping company,” said Aki Ojanen, CEO of Aspo and chairman of the board of directors of ESL Shipping.

The main owner of AtoB@C, shipowner Anders Nilsson commented: “I am very delighted to have found the best possible home for my shipping company. This is a good starting point.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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