South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) has confirmed its long-rumoured interest in buying STX France from the wreckage of compatriot STX Offshore & Shipbuilding.
The French yards are specialists in building passenger and naval vessels and are currently majority-owned by STX O&S in partnership with the the French state’s ‘strategic’ 33.34% stake.
However, any deal will be closely examined as STX group’s main creditor and shareholder (in a rescue debt-for-equity package) is the Korean Development Bank – which is also the main shareholder in DSME.
Speculation is therefore rife that KDB is aiming to keep the St Nazaire-based company in Korean hands while keeping its promised policy of selling all STX Europe’s yards.
The last major asset sales were its Turku unit to Meyer Werft and the Finnish state last year, which is now totally owned by the German company and, similarly, the other 50% in Arctech Helsinki Shipyard, which is now a 100% subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned behemoth United Shipbuilding Corporation.
Related news:DSME considers buying STX France stake from KDB
How keen the French government would be on this deal is another open question as STX France build navy ships for France and other countries – including a controversial Russian order for Mistral-class amphibious assault warships, now on hold due to EU sanctions.
Italy’s state-owned player Fincantieri, which two years ago bought STX OSV (now named VARD) and at the handover ceremony for cruise ship Britannia to Carnival recently, its CEO Giuseppe Bono said “We absolutely must proceed with the consolidation of the industry” meaning the cruise ship sector.
Hard bargaining and difficult decisions will see where France thinks its best solution lies. But STX France now has a reasonably healthy orderbook with RCCL and MSC for six cruise ships plus two options. Two of these are for the world’s largest passenger vessels: the 227,000GT Oasis class worth about GBP1 billion each. At the time of writing none of the parties were willing to make any media statements.