April 12, 2018 / 6:53 AM / a year ago

Denmark's DFDS agrees to buy Turkish shipper U.N. Ro-Ro in $1.2 billion deal

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish shipping and logistics company DFDS (DFDS.CO) has agreed to buy Turkish freight shipping operator U.N. Ro-Ro from Turkish private equity firms Actera Group and Esas Holdings for 950 million euros ($1.17 billion) on a debt-free basis.

Denmark's DFDS owned Kaunas Seaways sets sail in the Bosphorus Straight, on its way to the Black Sea, in Istanbul, Turkey, September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Yoruk Isik

It marks a change of course for the Turkish company, which had planned an initial public offering for up to 57.7 percent of the company, a draft prospectus showed last month.

U.N. Ro-Ro operates five freight shipping routes between Turkey, Italy and France.

DFDS said U.N. Ro-Ro’s freight market was “one of Europe’s most attractive” and that it was operationally similar to northern Europe, where DFDS does most of its current business.

Shares in DFDS rose 4.5 percent after the news.

DFDS’s board has decided to terminate the company’s current share buyback program and suspend a planned dividend.

It is also recommending a share issue of 1 billion Danish crowns ($166 million) as part of the financing structure which otherwise consists of committed term loan financing.

The Lauritzen Foundation, which holds 42 percent of DFDS’s share capital, has confirmed its intention to participate pro rata in a share issue, DFDS said.

For 2018, U.N. Ro-Ro expects revenue of 240 million euros ($297 million) and core profit (EBITDA) of 97 million euro, DFDS said.

Actera and Esas Holding had acquired the 98.8 percent stake, that DFDS now plans to buy, from private equity firm KKR & Co LP (KKR.N) for an undisclosed sum in 2014.

DFDS said the ratio between its net interest bearing debt and its core profit (EBITDA) is expected to rise to around 2.5 after the deal and the share issue. That would be in line with its targeted ratio of between 2.0 and 3.0.

DFDS also changed its financial forecast for 2018 as a consequence of the deal and now expects revenue to grow by 8 percent and EBITDA before special items of between 3.0 billion and 3.2 billion Danish crowns.

Reporting by Teis Jensen; editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Adrian Croft

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