COPENHAGEN Jan 9 Private equity group Altor is
eyeing a sale of Danish ship fuel supplier OW Bunker, possibly
through a stock market listing, the Nordic-focused investor said
OW Bunker this week secured a $700 million credit facility
to support its growth strategy in the highly fragmented
industry, presenting Altor with an attractive window of
opportunity for a listing that could give the business a value
of $1 billion.
"An exit may well come in the foreseeable future," Altor's
head of Danish activities Soren Johansen told Reuters. "It's
clear that this company, with its growth potential and its
characteristics, could be very attractive to list."
Altor, which says on its website that it normally owns
businesses for five to seven years, has owned OW Bunker since
buying its parent Wrist Group in July 2007.
No indication was given on the price Altor paid, though
local media said that it could have been anywhere between 1 and
2 billion Danish crowns ($182-364 million).
The business has increased its global presence significantly
since then and now competes with U.S. group World Fuel Services
for top spot in shipping fuels, known as bunker fuels.
The two companies each control an estimated 7 percent of the
OW Bunker will use the credit facility agreed this week to
ensure it is not left behind as consolidation in the shipping
industry prompts a wave of mergers among its suppliers.
"If we as a subcontractor do not comply, we lose the
competitive edge. Our customers drive our industry to growth and
consolidation," Chief Executive Jim Pedersen told Reuters on
Wednesday, pointing out that OW Bunker is now twice as big as it
was four years ago.
OW Bunker posted a profit of $54 million on sales of $14
billion in 2012. No newer figures have been released, but in the
previous two years net profit rose by about 25 percent on
World Fuel Services, the U.S. company that sells marine,
aviation and land fuel products, is valued at about 15 times
profit. Assuming that OW Bunker's 2013 profit increased in line
with recent years, a multiple of 15 times would yield a value of
about $1 billion.
Other leading players in the industry include Chemoil Energy
and Aegean Marine Petroleum Network.