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.

Source: splash247