Liberty buys stake in International Shipholding
A company affiliated with Liberty Shipping has acquired 5.2 percent of International Shipholding Corp. and has proposed a possible combination of the two companies.
According to a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday, Liberty Chief Executive Officer Philip J. Shapiro, met with Niels M. Johnsen, chairman and CEO of International Shipholding, in June and proposed a possible merger.
But according to the document, at the end of July, Johnsen told Shapiro that after discussions with other members of his family, they decided “not to engage in a transaction with Liberty at that time.”
According to the International Shipholding proxy statement filed with the SEC in March, members of the Johnsen family owned about 25.2 percent of the company’s stock and “to the extent they act together, the Johnsen family may be deemed to be in control of International Shipholding Corp.” The same proxy listed six investment advisors who owned another 39 percent of the International Shipholding’s shares at that time.
Liberty, through an affiliate called Projection LLC, has purchased 373,300 shares of International Shipholding for about $7 million and said it may acquire additional shares. The Lake Success, N.Y.-based company also said it may still attempt to convince the owners of the company “to pursue some form of transaction.”
Liberty also said it has hired Jeffries & Co. in connection with a potential transaction with International Shipholding.
Liberty Shipping has three handy-size and three Panamax bulk carriers and a pure car/truck carrier (PCTC) that it operates under the U.S. flag. It also has two PCTCs under construction at Daewoo and in the past has operated foreign flag bulk carriers as well.
International Shipholding Group, which is headquartered in Mobile, Ala., has a large and diverse fleet and is well known for its brand names such as Waterman Steamship and Central Gulf Railway. Known for many decades as an operator of lighter-aboard-ship (LASH) vessels under both the Waterman and Forest Lines name, it got out of the LASH business over the past year.
In its most recent annual report it described its fleet as comprising six U.S.-flag and four foreign-flag PCTCs; two breakbulk ships; three containerships; a tanker; a molten sulfur tanker; two rail ferries operated between Mobile and Mexico; a self-unloading U.S. flag coal carrier; three roll-on/roll-off vessels that permit rapid deployment of rolling stock, munitions, and other military cargoes; and a half-interest in two capesize and two Panamax bulk carriers. The company said it had sold interest in a Panamax bulker in June.
Liberty is a privately held company. International Shipholding is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and had profit of $22.8 million on sales of $114 million in the first half of 2008.