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Bourbon's chairman said to weigh bid to take company private

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[PARIS] Bourbon SA Chairman Jacques de Chateauvieux is considering a bid to take the French oil services company private as it grapples with a decline in crude prices that's hurting customers, people familiar with the matter said.

[PARIS] Bourbon SA Chairman Jacques de Chateauvieux is considering a bid to take the French oil services company private as it grapples with a decline in crude prices that's hurting customers, people familiar with the matter said.

Mr de Chateauvieux, who already owns more than 50 per cent of Bourbon through his investment company Jaccar Holdings, is speaking with financial advisers on a possible offer for the shares he doesn't already own, said the people, who asked not to be named as the deliberations are private.

Jaccar may team up with another investor to fund the acquisition, one of the people said.

No final decisions have been made, any potential transaction would depend on market conditions and Mr de Chateauvieux may decide against pursuing the deal, the people said.

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Mr de Chateauvieux "formally denies conducting any negotiations aimed at delisting Bourbon," the company said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday.

A bid would come less than two years after Mr de Chateauvieux raised his stake in Bourbon from 26 per cent. At the time, he agreed to pay 24 euros a share, valuing the company at about 1.8 billion euros (S$2.75 billion).

Mr de Chateauvieux's brother, Henri, is Bourbon's second-largest investor, and owns about 8 per cent of shares through his investment firm, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Shares of Bourbon rose 4.1 per cent to 14.20 euros in Paris Tuesday, giving the company a market value of about 1 billion euros. The stock has declined 6.9 per cent from a year ago.

Bourbon's adjusted revenue is declining as a collapse in crude prices force customers such as Total SA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc to cut costs.

Bourbon transports equipment and personnel to the industry's offshore rigs through its fleet of ships. The company said earlier this month that 2016 will likely see a low point in the cycle for the demand of offshore vessels, with a slight rebound in the second half.

In the more-than three decades since he took the helm, Mr de Chateauvieux has transformed Bourbon, founded in 1948 by plantation owners on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, from a rum-and-sugar company into a shipowner serving oil producers as well as the French navy.

Mr de Chateauvieux will comment on Bourbon's strategy on March 29, the company said in Wednesday's statement.

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