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Saverys' Plan to Buy Out Exmar Falls Short - For Now

Exmar LPG carrier sailing away from DSME
File image courtesy Exmar

Published Jul 16, 2023 9:55 PM by The Maritime Executive

Nicholas Saverys' bid to take Belgian gas shipping company Exmar private has fallen short of the 95 percent shareholder acceptance rate required to complete it, but the plan is still on. Family holding company Saverex will reopen the bid for outstanding shares in August in hopes of getting the transaction across the line. 

In April, Saverex announced plans to take Exmar private in a deal that would value the company at $720 million, twice its profits last year. Saverex already owned about 45 percent of the share volume in Exmar and would need to buy enough shares from other investors to get past 95 percent, the threshold that would allow squeeze-out provisions to buy out the last holdouts. 

Saverex offered shareholders a 25 percent premium over the share value on March 31, with the unanimous support of Exmar's board. Enough investors accepted that Saverex (together with Nicholas Saverys and Exmar) now owns about 78 percent of all outstanding shares. Saverex plans to pay all who accepted the offer at the end of the month, even though the bid did not cross the threshold. 

Exmar is an LPG carrier specialist, and it also owns the barge-mounted FSRU leased to Gasunie at the port of Eemshaven. As a firm focused on gas shipping, Exmar's capabilities align well with the Saverys family's vision for the green transition. LPG is shipped as a refrigerated gas, and for cargo-handling purposes, it has enough in common with ammonia that many LPG carriers are designed to carry both. Low-carbon ammonia (green or blue) is one of the most competitive future fuels in terms of cost and scalability. 

Exmar has a partnership in place with ammonia producer Nutrien to design and build a low-carbon ammonia-fueled vessel, to be deployed as early as 2025. 

Financially, Exmar is also in a good position as an acquisition target. It made $350 million last year as a result of the sale of an FLNG, the Tango, and kept about $300 million after paying out dividends.