US-based Tidewater submitted one of four takeover offers for Bourbon Corporation to the Marseille commercial court overseeing reorganisation proceedings for the French offshore support vessel (OSV) operator
No further details were available on Tidewater’s offer. One of the largest OSV owners in the world, Tidewater acquired GulfMark about 13 months ago. Tidewater owns about 220 vessels with an average age of 10.1 years (excluding four joint venture vessels but including 60 stacked vessels). As of 30 September, Tidewater had 160 active vessels with an average age of 9.3 years.
Among the other takeover offers received by the court was one from Société Phocéenne de Participation (SPP), a company owned by a group of banks that represent 75% of the group’s debt concerns and 100% of the assets and activities of Bourbon. The banks are BNP Paribas, Caisse Régionale de Crédit Agricole Mutuel Alpes Provence, Caisse Régionale de Crédit Agricole Mutuel de Paris et d’ile de France, Credit Mutuel Equity SCR, Crédit Lyonnais, Natixis and Société Générale.
The SPP offer would lead to the conversion into capital of about €1.4Bn (US$1.55Bn) of debt currently borne by the group and €300M (US$333M) of debt in the form of repayable bonds. It also includes €150M (US$166M) in bank financing of which €30M (US$33M) would be released to meet immediate liquidity needs as soon as the transfer of ownership is completed.
Under the SPP proposal, it would become the 100% shareholder of Bourbon Maritime’s capital, liquidating the publicly traded company Bourbon Corporation. A supervisory board composed of eight to 10 members would govern the new organisation. The board would be made up of members representing the shareholder, industry experts and a management board composed of Gaël Bodénès, chairman, and Thierry Hochoa. SPP’s plan would continue implementing the #BOURBONINMOTION initiative started by Bourbon two years ago.
A third offer was submitted to the court on behalf of JS & Co by Jacques de Chateauvieux, current chairman and chief executive of Bourbon. Backing SPP’s proposal, China’s ICBC Financial Leasing refused to discuss a possible deal with JS & Co.
A fourth offer was submitted by French maritime logistics company Peschaud but no details were available.
The court is due to rule on the reorganisation process on 23 December 2019.
Mr de Chateauvieux said if the court ruled in favour of SPP’s proposal, it “would lead to the liquidation of the listed company Bourbon Corporation and a total loss for shareholders and bondholders.” He added, “It would make Bourbon Maritime’s new shareholders responsible for the recovery of a French company, which is still the world leader in offshore oil and gas marine services, its future development and the preservation of its decision-making centres in France.”