Vroon sells offshore vessels and completes restructuring overhaul

28 September 2023 Consultancy.eu 3 min. read

Dutch shipping company Vroon has sold over 30 vessels in its offshore fleet to two different buyers, closing off a multi-year financial restructuring process.

In a statement released yesterday, Vroon announced that it has divested a major part of its offshore division to Britoil from Singapore (around 30 vessels) and Rederij Groen from the Netherlands (2 vessels).

“The proceeds from the sales will be used to reduce debt to a normalised level. This will strengthen the financial position of the company, and complete the restructuring transformation we embarked on a few years ago,” said Martijn Schouten, CEO of Vroon. 

Founded in 1890, Vroon is one of the Netherlands’ oldest shipping companies. Since its inception, the Breda based player has grown into a leading maritime service provider operating worldwide with a fleet of over 100 vessels.

However, in the years between 2015 and 2021, facing a crisis in the offshore sector and a severe downturn in oil & gas markets due to Covid-19 and its economic aftermath, Vroon sailed into stormy waters. By the end of its 2020 financial year, Vroon’s debts had reached close to $1 billion.

A comprehensive financial and organisational restructuring operation was launched, which saw the company restructure its finances, enhance its working capital, swap debt for equity with major lenders, and sell off multiple non-strategic assets, including its container, dry-bulk, crew-transfer vessels and car carriers.

The most recent sell-off was closed last month, when Norway-based Geos (Golden Energy Offshore Services) paid Vroon around $94 million for the purchase of five offshore service vessels.

“Finalising the transactions with Britoil and Rederij Groen marks the end of the restructuring for Vroon,” said a jubilant Schouten. “We are delighted to enter a new chapter as a financially strong company.”

The shipping group now has 1,400 employees and a fleet of 65 specialised vessels, including tankers and livestock transport ships. In the offshore segment, Vroon remains active with so-called emergency response and rescue vessels.

The deal

Buyer Britoil is a specialist in the offshore maritime sector, operating primarily in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The company is part of Hico, the investment company of the Hartnoll family.

Rederij Groen is a Dutch shipping company specialising in offshore support services. Founded in 1973, the family-owned business operates from Scheveningen, focusing on guard and seismic support vessel operations for offshore projects.

Vroon was supported during both sale transactions by JBR, which served as its corporate finance advisor. “Due to the delivery of a large number of vessels in different phases and Vroon's restructuring during the process, it was not a typical M&A process. Carefully coordinating all steps of the process and creating consensus among a large number of stakeholders, were crucial success factors in achieving the final result,” reflected Rick ter Maat, partner at JBR.

Rocher Hulst, principal at JBR, added: “We are immensely proud that such beautiful transactions have been established in this complex situation. We are grateful to our client Vroon for the trust confided in us to advise them on these transactions. We wish Vroon all the best in continuing the heritage of the family business.”