Friday, July 23, 2010

Heavy Lift And Project Shipping Specialist Set To Expand

Beluga Expand Offshore Sector
Shipping News Feature

GERMANY – Beluga Shipping GmbH, the dynamic heavy lift specialists, have featured previously on our pages as a company which never does things by halves. From their innovative Skysails project to their pioneering voyage around the Northern Russian coast any announcement they make is always worth a look and with the growth of the sector, mainly due to the extensive development of offshore wind farms the company has announced plans to make further investments in the super heavy lift market stating that they expect the offshore sector to become Beluga’s second main pillar alongside the attractive niche market of project and heavy lift cargo shipping, the company’s core focus since it was founded in 1995.

For more than 12 months Beluga has been engaged in the development and construction of the P-3 ship series. These special multi-purpose heavy lift project carriers will be fitted with cranes capable of lifting weights of up to 2,000 tons in tandem using their on board 1,000 ton cranes. The market conditions for these carriers have significantly improved over the last 18 months allowing Beluga to further extend its position as global market leader.

In addition, Beluga is engaged in the construction and development of erector ships for its Joint Venture with Hochtief Construction AG: Beluga Hochtief Offshore. These erector ships – a type of jack-up vessel – will be able to load, transport and even install offshore wind energy farms. In addition to these erector ships, Beluga is also planning two cable-laying ships and two supply vessels for the offshore wind farm sector.

In order to carry out these strategic investments and continue on its long-term growth path, Beluga Shipping has taken on board a strong partner, the American investment company Oaktree Capital Management LP (OCM). Oaktree has agreed to invest in this innovative company and provide the financing for its strategic growth. The Managing Director of the German OCM branch office in Frankfurt/Main, Hermann T. Dambach says of his organisation:

“Oaktree has substantial investment experience within the shipping sector. We see Beluga Shipping as an innovative, strong and successful company with enormous growth potential in its core business as well as in the emerging offshore business segment. Furthermore, we are convinced that Beluga will be well placed within the market to take advantage of additional opportunities as these arise. Our partnership will enable Beluga to strategically and profitably extend its market leadership.”

Oaktree was founded in 1995 by a group of principals who have worked together since the mid-1980s. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the firm has approximately 600 employees and offices in 13 cities worldwide. The company is an alternative and non-traditional investment manager with over $76 billion in assets under management as of March 31, 2010 which focuses on investing in non traditional private equity fields. Niels Stolberg, Founder and sole managing partner of the project and heavy lift shipping company Beluga Shipping GmbH is positive about the new partnership:

“In Oaktree Capital Management we have found a competent partner who understands our philosophy and business strategy and who will strongly support us in the further growth of Beluga Shipping. I am convinced that the excellent working relationship that we have developed to date will continue and together we will harvest the fruits of our co-operation.”

The partnership between Oaktree Capital Management and Beluga Shipping will officially be sealed later on this month. Beluga is expected to order its first new special vessels shortly after.