In a surprise move, the South Korean shipbuilding group STX has bought a controlling stake in Norway’s Aker Yards for 560 million euros. Paying 38% more than Monday’s closing price for the shares, the South Koreans obtained almost 40% of Aker, which builds cruise and merchant ships, ferries and specialised vessels for the offshore oil industry.
Analysts said they believe STX may be interested in buying the entire company which has 20,000 employees, working in 18 ship yards in Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Romania and Brazil with turnover last year of 3,212 million euros. Aker would not speculate on why STX had bought such a big part of the company and would not say whether the board had any plans to seek another bidder.
In South Korea analysts said this shows STX’s commitment to fast expansion and bolstering its Europe networks. STX has plenty of money from a recent initial public offering of shares in an affiliate shipping firm and it has also benefited from booming orders of bulk carriers from Europe.