Navigator takes over Ultragas

Fresh from taking a 39.1% stake in Navigator Holdings in December, Andreas Sohmen-Pao, increasingly seen as shipping’s consolidator-in-chief, has helped push through a merger with Chile’s Ultragas, creating a fleet with a commanding position in the handysize liquefied gas sector.

Navigator on Monday announced the signing of a non-binding letter of intent with Ultranav to merge subsidiary Ultragas’s fleet and business activities. The combined fleet would total 56 vessels.

The plan is for Navigator to issue approximately 21.2m new shares of its common stock to Ultranav, and assume Ultragas’ net debt of approximately $197m, as well as its net working capital. The combined entity would have an aggregate net asset value of approximately $1.3bn.

Once the deal goes through, Ultranav would own 27.5% of Navigator’s shares with Sohmen-Pao’s BW Group holding 28.4% of the enlarged company.

David Butters, executive chairman of the board of Navigator, a company originally founded by Wilbur Ross in 1997, 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.”

Ultranav’s chairman, Dag von Appen, will join the Navigator board as will Sohmen-Pao and Peter Stokes, a current boardmember of Ultranav and former head of shipping at Lazard.

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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