Norway's Troubled Kleven Verft Shipyard Files for Bankruptcy

Norway's Kleven Werft files for bankruptcy creating an uncertain for the builders of cruise ships and offshore vessels
Hurtigruten's cruise ship and a barge at the Kleven shipyard

Published Jul 6, 2020 6:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

Troubled Norwegian shipbuilding group, Kleven Verft filed for bankruptcy after a reported refinancing deal collapsed. According to reports in Norway, the shipyard’s senior executives have also resigned and the future of the operation is unclear.

A specialized shipbuilder, Kleven was building ships primarily in the offshore sector and had recently sought to become more involved with cruise ships after the downturn in the offshore segment. At the end of 2019, the yard delivered its second technologically advanced cruise ship to Hurtigruten and said it was expecting a busy 2020 with two rebuilding contracts, including additional work for Hurtigruten. The yard was also building a new trawler and a barge both for delivery in 2020. In May, Kleven in partnership with Brodosplit announced that the two yards, both owned by the DIV Group, would be working on a new residential cruise ship due for delivery in 2024.

During the past few years, Kleven had gone through a series of reorganizations seeking to enhance its finances.

In September 2017, Hurtigruten, which at the time had the two cruise ships on order at Kleven, announced that it was acquiring a 40 percent share of the yard as part of a new investment group. Lürssen, a leading designer of superyachts also joined in the investment group, but nine months later Hurtigruten was forced to acquire the yard, Kleven Maritime Contracting, and Kleven Maritime Technology in order to complete the two cruise ships that were then under construction. The agreement was said to have provided sufficient liquidity to continue the operations and complete the existing contracts.

With its cruise ship construction completed, Hurtigruten agreed in January 2020 to sell Kleven to the DIV Group, a large Croatian industrial company that includes ownership of the Brodosplit shipyard in Croatia.

At the time, Kleven CEO Kjetil Bollestad was quoted as saying, “I am incredibly happy on behalf of all employees in Kleven that we now are about to get a new and solid owner of the yard. We have managed through a difficult period to deliver fantastic ships, and at the same time kept the high competence at the yard. Together with the new owners, we will plan long-term and develop further.”

The two shipyards were said to have complementary skills and combined would create a stronger financial profile permitting them to better finance future construction projects. It was anticipated that the yards would collaborate on future construction projects.

Kleven, dated back to the 1930s when it got its start as a steel forge and building fishing vessels.