Boluda Enhances Position in France and Rescue Response with Acquisition

Abeilles tug
Abeilles adds six vessels and expands the offshore response capabilities in France and Northern Europe (Abeilles)

Published Jun 5, 2024 9:28 PM by The Maritime Executive


Spain’s Boluda Group is continuing its path of acquisitions as it works to further expand leadership in the industry. Announcing the second deal in a matter of weeks, Boluda says it will enhance its position in France while also adding to its maritime rescue operations.

Boluda acquired Les Abeilles, a tugboat company headquartered in Le France, France, and operating six vessels. Established in 1864, the company remains a benchmark in the French maritime sector and is contracted by France’s Marine National for rapid response rescue and anti-pollution interventions.

According to the announcement, the acquisition will enhance Boluda Towage’s capacity to act in case of offshore spills, with highly qualified equipment and state-of-the-art technology. Boluda Towage will also use the acquisition to enter the wind energy markets, supporting the construction and maintenance of offshore wind farms. 

To be known as Boluda Towage France, the company will also provide a quick and rapid response to adverse situations in extreme weather conditions, offering strategic coverage along the French and Northern European coasts. Boluda highlights that it has been active in France since 2007. The combination will further strengthen the company’s position. 

The acquisition includes four tugs, one multipurpose vessel, and one AHTS tug. Three of these tugs are currently based in Northern France along the English Channel, with the Abeille Bourbon in Brest, the Abeille Liberté in Cherbourg, and the Abeille Normandie in Boulogne-sur-Mer. The Abeille Méditerranée is based in Toulon, in the Mediterranean Sea. The other two vessels are the multipurpose vessel Jason, currently in Toulon, and the AHTS tug Abeille Horizon in Cherbourg.

Abeille Méditerranée and Abeille Normandie are sister ships built in 2010 and acquired in 2022. The Abeille Liberté and the Abeille Bourbon are also a pair built in 2005. The Jason dates to 2009.

Boluda Corporacion Maritima continues to be aggressive in its acquisitions to consolidate the industry and build its position. In 2017 it acquired the German towage companies of Unterweder Reederei and Lutgens & Reimers. Then in 2019, it acquired Kotug Smit Towage, and in 2021, the harbor and offshore activities of Iskes Towage & Salvage. Later that year they also acquired the Scottish Caledonian Towage. The most recent acquisition announced in May was the British company SMS Towage. The companies have been consolidated under the trade name Boluda Towage.

In 2023, Boluda announced that it would acquire Smit Lamnalco from joint venture owners Boskalis and the Saudi Arabian Rezayat Group. Boluda which reports operating over 400 vessels had said it would acquire 111 additional vessels. The deal however is reportedly not complete. 

The company’s goal remains to build its offerings which include port towage as well as offshore and ocean towage and salvage operations.