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Saverys Plan to Buyout Gas Carrier Company Exmar

Exmar buyout offer
Exmar reported a strong increase in profits from its focus on gas carriers (Exmar file photo)

Published Apr 3, 2023 1:49 PM by The Maritime Executive

Following their success at blocking the acquisition of Euronav and winning seats on the supervisory board, the Saverys family reports it now intends to take Exmar private in a buyout valuing the company at $720 million. The Saverys’ investment company Saverex did not supply a rationale for the acquisition of the 50 percent of the shares it does not currently hold, but the deal for the company which is focused on gas production, storage, and shipping, is seen in keeping with the Saverys’ vision for operations addressing new forms of renewable energy.

Nicholas Saverys is the current chairman of the board for Exmar and Carl-Antoine Saverys also has a board seat. Their investment company Saverex currently holds nearly 27 million shares or 45 percent of Exmar.

The statement released in Belgium reports that Saverex intends to launch a voluntary public takeover bid for all the shares of Exmar it does not currently hold offering a price of €12.10 per share, which is nearly 25 percent above the stock’s closing price on March 31. The buyout for the outstanding shares is valued at nearly $367 million. The bid price would be reduced by the gross amount of a planned dividend from Exmar if the dividend is paid before the closing of the takeover bid. The offer is also conditional on Saverex reaching 95 percent of the shares outstanding and then it would launch a simplified squeeze-out bid for the remaining shares.

The board of directors of Exmar have unanimously resolved to support and recommend the bid to shareholders. The board said it would further explain its position once Saverex decides to launch the formal offer and releases its draft prospectus.

The offer price represents a strong premium to Exmar’s recent share price. In addition to the nearly 25 percent over last Friday’s closing price, it ranges between 33 and nearly 50 percent over the average price at different times over the past year. Reports in the Belgium media however are suggesting that at least some of the shareholders immediately responded saying that the offer needs to have a higher valuation for Exmar based on the company’s improving results.

Exmar is involved in the extraction, production, storage, and transportation by sea of liquified natural gas, petrochemical gases, and liquid hydrocarbons. The company also owns and operates FLNG units, which had been underperforming before the start of the war in Ukraine but rose in value over the past year. The company’s floating liquefaction barge Tango FLNG was sold in August 2022 to Italy’s Eni with Exmar using the proceeds to become net debt free. Exmar also signed a long-term charter with Eni for another unit the Excalibur while the company also began receiving charter income in August 2022 from the FSRU Eemshaven LNG.

Revenues for the year ended December 2022 were relatively flat at $155.6 million but income soared. Exmar reported a profit of $320 million versus $11.6 million in the year earlier. Investors are already noting that the buyout offer is just above two times 2022’s profits.

The Saverys family has emphasized their focus on the transition to new forms of energy with Exmar’s gas handling expertise seen as key to the emerging alternative fuels. Exmar last year ordered two 46,000 cbm midsize LPG/ammonia carriers with dual fuel LPG propulsion. Recently they also exercised an option for two additional vessels that will be built as ammonia-ready to convert to the likely future fuel. The company says it believes despite the rapid build out of new gas carriers that the outlook for the market remains strong based on continuing user demand.

Exmar’s website lists a total fleet of 30 vessels plus the two new orders and two pending orders. The fleet consists of midsized, pressurized, and very large gas carriers, one LNG carrier, the FSRU unit now in Eemshaven, and two floating accommodation barges.