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NRI Businessman Buys Norway Shipping Company
Thursday, February 21, 2008

NRI businessman S Sivasankaran has acquired a Norwegian shipping firm, JB Ugland Shipping (JBUS), for Rs 1,200 crore. Mr Shivkumaran earlier gained popularity by selling his telecom business Aircel to Maxis of Malaysia for $800 million.

JBUS is a Norway-headquartered shipping company with a fleet of 40 owned and long-time chartered vessels with an aggregate capacity of approximately 2 million deadweight tonnage (DWT). The company's fleet consists of a mix of tankers and chemical and bulk carriers. The fleet has an average life of approximately four years. It is also acquiring new vessels which will be delivered in phases over the next three years. The company's main operations are centered in Oslo, Norway and Singapore.

Mr Sivasankaran has routed the acquisition through Siva Ventures, his flagship company which controls Sterling Infotech, a leading domestic telcommunication firm. Siva Ventures, having a turnover $2 billion, has business interests in a variety of industrial sectors like media, biofuels, wind energy and real estate.

Confirming the acquisition, Mr Sivasankaran said that the group has identified shipping as a key business area considering its growth potential. "For shipping of bulk commodities, the demand from India is likely to see an explosive growth on the back of the increased raw material demand for the new power and oil refining projects coming up in India, a large number of which are based on imported raw materials," said Mr Sivasankaran.

According to industry sources the incumbent management of JBUS, led by CEO Bjorn Bergsland, will continue to run the company. As part of the negotiated deal, the company will have the rights to use the JBUS brand name for three years and will continue trading under the JB Ugland following the acquisition. Siva Ventures group CEO V Srinivasan said, "the acquisition is a part of the group's strategy to focus on high-growth sectors."

"I believe the shipping industry, especially the bulk segment - both tankers and dry bulk carriers - will increasingly revolve around the broader Asian commodities story," said Mr Sivasankaran.



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