Sietas takeover deal threatened

12 Dec 2012
Sietas is building one jack-up construction vessel for Van Oord, but the second – and hence the yard’s future – is in doubt

Sietas is building one jack-up construction vessel for Van Oord, but the second – and hence the yard’s future – is in doubt

Troubled German shipbuilder JJ Sietas Group has said that the planned takeover by the Dutch VeKa group may not be able to go ahead, because customer VanOord has not confirmed the order for a second wind farm vessel.

The offer by Veka, which was approved by the creditors’ committee in June 2012, was conditional on the Hamburg-based yard obtaining more newbuilding orders, so the deal could not be completed until such orders had been received. It was widely believed that the Dutch engineering company Van Oord would follow up its firm order for one wind farm construction jack-up vessel with an order for a second.

The reason given for the lack of confirmation of the second ship is that Van Oord has been forced to postpone the decision on the second order because of delays in the investment process for the EnBW Hohe See offshore wind farm. As a result of political discussions concerning the amendment to Germany’s Energy Industry Act and the associated uncertainties regarding binding dates for the grid connection of offshore wind farms, EnBW has postponed its investment decision for the planned North Sea wind farm. Van Oord’s firm intention had been to order a second jack-up vessel from Sietas and to use it in the construction of the wind farm. Instead Van Oord has now disbanded its entire Hohe See project team.

Insolvency administrator Berthold Brinkmann commented, “Sietas shipyard, its 400 employees and 26 trainees are now in a very difficult situation. On the one hand, we know from Van Oord that the shipyard’s work is very highly regarded and that the construction of the first jack-up vessel for offshore wind farms built in a German shipyard is proceeding successfully. On the other, the shipyard needs more shipbuilding orders to be attractive to potential buyers. These are not just a condition for the takeover by VeKa, but also for other significant interested parties.”

At the end of February 2013, the administrator has to decide on the yard’s future. So in order to endure its continuing existence, the yard has to secure a firm order before that date. Mr Brinkmann adds: “The Sietas shipyard is a practical example of just how complicated planning for the energy transition is. We are in the process of building the first offshore wind power jack-up vessel in Germany and simultaneously we have had the carpet pulled out from under our feet by simple time limit regulations in connection with the timetable for the energy transition. Nevertheless, we will attempt to preserve the Sietas shipyard as a gem in Hamburg’s maritime industry. We appeal to the political decision-makers to adapt the statutory regulations to ensure that the energy transition rapidly succeeds. If this were to happen, the Sietas shipyard could contribute its expertise as a specialised German shipyard in the long term and several hundred shipbuilding jobs would remain in Hamburg.”

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