Helsinki shipyard says new Russian owners will help secure new orders

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Russian-owned Arctech Helsinki shipyard in Finland is getting new owners which the company hopes will help it secure new orders, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

Russia’s state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) has tried since 2017 to sell its majority stake in the Finnish shipyard, which specializes in Arctic icebreakers, as U.S. sanctions against the holding company have hampered business.

Arctech said the shipyard’s ownership would be taken over by Algador Holdings Ltd, owned by two Russian businessmen, Rishat

Bagautdinov and Vladimir Kasyanenko, who is also a Belgian citizen.

The company described the move as “an important step to secure new vessel orders” but it remained unclear if the arrangement would allow it to avoid sanctions.

The Russian ownership of the Finnish shipyard dates from 2010 and a joint venture between Russia’s state-owned OSK and STX Finland, part of South Korea’s STX group, in a Russian bid to gain access to western technology.

The Helsinki shipyard was the world’s biggest builder of vessels that can navigate ice-covered waters until sanctions prompted by the Ukraine crisis disrupted its finances. Banks have been unwilling to fund its shipbuilding, making it impossible for it to secure new orders.

The company said it now holds an offer book worth 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion), with initial agreements signed off for some orders.

It said the change of ownership would take effect in May. The deal’s financial value was not revealed.

($1 = 0.8938 euros)

Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle