Spanish tug owning group Boluda Towage has again expanded its position in northern Europe by acquiring Netherlands-headquartered Iskes Towage & Salvage
In an agreement signed on 21 January, Boluda acquired the port towage activities of Iskes in Eemshaven, the Netherlands; Lubeck, Germany; and Lisbon, Portugal; and also purchased Iskes’ offshore activities, together with the management and office staff in the head office in IJmuiden, the Netherlands.
Under the arrangement, Iskes will continue to operate as a separate entity, but directly under Boluda’s management in Valencia, Spain.
Iskes, under new managing director Ronald Vergouwen, will specifically focus on growing Boluda’s position in towage and offshore in the Baltic Sea market, Kiel Channel, Germany, and Poland.
Boluda Towage is a subsidiary of Boluda Corporacion Maritima, which also operates terminals and shipping lines. Its chairman Vicente Boluda Fos said Boluda Towage and Iskes have been working together for many months. “We have been long friends of Iskes and we value their entrepreneurial spirit and pioneering vision,” Mr Fos said.
Boluda executive vice president Vicente Boluda Ceballos explained how this friendship had involved collaboration in the northern European market.
“We have recently experienced the benefits of the synergies resulting from this partnership,” said Mr Ceballos. This included using Iskes’ 2010-built tug Ginger in its port operations in London, UK from Q4 2020.
“We certainly intend to deploy Iskes’s professional crews and experienced employees on future projects,” said Mr Ceballos.
Iskes owner Jim Iskes will step away from management. But he will stay on board as a strategic advisor after the official closing of the transaction, planned for early February.
Mr Iskes welcomed the acquisition by Boluda Towage, with the resulting combined organisation and asset portfolio.
“Although we find ourselves in exceptionally challenging times, we are committed to consolidating Boluda’s future prospects,” said Mr Iskes, “to continue strengthening Boluda’s position as European tugboat market leader, and to open up new opportunities with our innovative attitude.”
This acquisition follows Boluda’s strategy to bolster its northern European market position. It acquired Kotug Smit Towage joint venture in a €300M (US$330M) deal in Q3 2019 to enter the UK and Benelux towage markets.
It subsequently invested in new tugs in 2020 for operations in Belgium. VB Bolero and VB Rumba arrived in Zeebrugge, Belgium, in December 2020, where they will support shipping at various terminals and docks.
Iskes has scaled back its operations in the Netherlands, possibly in preparation for a corporate acquisition. In December 2019, Iskes sold its stake in joint venture Port Towage Amsterdam (PTA) in the Netherlands to its partner Svitzer. PTA was formed in 2014 by the two companies.
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