DUBAI, June 22 National Shipping Co of Saudi
Arabia (Bahri) plans to arrange long-term
sharia-compliant financing in the next year to replace a bridge
loan backing its $1.3 billion acquisition of Saudi Aramco's
marine unit, it said on Sunday.
The purchase of Vela, first announced in November 2012, was
approved by Bahri shareholders at a meeting last Thursday,
paving the way for a deal which makes Bahri the world's
fourth-largest owner of very large crude carriers (VLCCs).
Under the agreement, Bahri also becomes the sole provider of
VLCC crude oil shipping services to Aramco.
Bahri is funding the acquisition with new shares issued to
Aramco and a 3.18 billion riyal ($848 million), 12-month
sharia-compliant bridge loan which was agreed in February 2013
but signed on Sunday, it said in a bourse filing.
The funding, secured against the vessels it is receiving
from Aramco, was provided by JP Morgan, Samba Financial
Group and Saudi British Bank.
This will be refinanced in the next year with long-term
Islamic financing, details of which will be announced when
agreed, a separate bourse statement from Bahri added.
Sources told Reuters in March 2013 that Bahri was looking at
a potential debut sukuk issue to replace the bridge loan; the
banks that provided the cash would be frontrunners to arrange
The shares granted to Aramco under the terms of the merger
will give the kingdom's national oil company a 20 percent stake
in Bahri post-completion.
($1 = 3.7508 Saudi Riyals)
(Reporting by David French; Editing by Andrew Torchia)