By Jonathan Saul
LONDON, Nov 25 (Reuters) – Top ship broker Clarkson is seeking to acquire Norwegian brokerage and investment bank RS Platou for 281.2 million pounds ($441 million) in a deal that would create one of the sector’s biggest players globally.
The deal would be the latest in an industry which has suffered one of its worst-ever downturns in the past five years. Owners ordered large numbers of vessels between 2007 and 2009, just as the global economy started to slow, creating a glut.
Prospects have brightened recently as world trade picks up and the glut of ships is absorbed, but recovery remains fragile. In the meantime, many ship brokers view larger operations with global teams as the best way to position for a full market revival.
Subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, Clarkson said on Wednesday it expected the acquisition to be completed in the first quarter of 2015. The enlarged group will offer shipping and offshore services, with headquarters in London and operations across 21 countries.
“It places the combined business in the number one position in offshore broking and the number one position in shipbroking with very little overlap,” Clarkson Chief Executive Andi Case told Reuters.
Case said he welcomed recent tie-ups in the sector.
“A good healthy market has good healthy participants,” he said. “The industry needs to consolidate.”
Last week ICAP, the world’s largest interdealer broker, said its shipping arm was in merger talks with ship broking peer Howe Robinson.
That followed a number of deals in the sector this year including Braemar Shipping Services, which completed the acquisition of ACM Shipping in July to form Braemar ACM Shipbroking. (Editing by David Holmes)
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