Norwegian shipowner Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA, one of the world’s biggest ocean car carriers, is spinning off its shipping and logistics units into separately listed companies in an initial public offering that could raise up to $400m.
The company says the move promises more flexibility for its shipping and logistics businesses, including growth for Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics.
Divided into three business segments, the company currently operates its shipping and logistics activities under Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA, while maritime services are organised under the Wilhelmsen Maritime Services unit.
Subject to approval at Wilh. Wilhelmsen’s AGM on April 15 the company is establishing a new group structure in which the shipping and the logistics activities will be carried forward in a separate entity: New WW ASA.
The new shipping and logistics company, along with Wilhelmsen Maritime Services, will be organised under a new parent company Wilh. Wilhelmsen Holding ASA.
In its shipping business sector, Wilh. Wilhelmsen has stakes in Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL), Eukor Car Carriers and American Roll-on Roll Off Carrier.
In its logistics business sector it also has a stake in WWL, as well as stakes in Glovis, American Auto Logistics and American Logistics Network. It also has a stake KFM Logistics Investments (Kaplan), but Kaplan will not be included under the New WW ASA, instead existing separately under Wilh. Wilhelmsen Holding ASA which will have a 22.5% stake in it.
The shipping and logistics business sectors will now be gathered under the New WW ASA as a listed entity that Wilh Wilhelmsen said will secure the companies access to the equity market “with more flexibility to act upon opportunities should they arise in the future”.
The proposed changes will take effect by the end of June 2010.
“By having two separately listed companies you have two separate access points to the equity market, which makes it possible for both the maritime services sector and the new WW ASA to grow,” said spokesperson Benedicte Gude. “[And] by securing a strong owner with a strong market balance sheet, we hope to be able to grow WWL, in addition to the other companies, and not least the logistics activities further in the future,” she added.
An unknown factor, however, is what the implications will be for the daughter companies now that Wilh. Wilhelmsen will have more shareholders as opposed to the more family-run business it has been until now.
The restructuring also means some executive moves.
Thomas Wilhelmsen, currently deputy group CEO of Wilh Wilhelmsen, will be chairman of the new shipping and logistics spin-off, while Jan-Eyvin Wang, head of Eukor, will take over as CEO.
Sjur Galtung will take over as the new president & CEO at Eukor, moving from his position as deputy group CEO at Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA.