Deal to keep shipbuilder IHC out of Chinese hands
A combination of investment company HAL, Van Oord and DEME are in talks to acquire Dutch shipbuilder Royal IHC or to strengthen its capital. The parties want to prevent crucial knowledge and technology of IHC falling into the hands of a Chinese company.
The talks have been confirmed by various sources including Het Financieele Dagblad and the Belgian business newspaper De Tijd. In four to five weeks’ time there should be a decision on a possible takeover by the consortium led by HAL.
IHC is going through a difficult period. In July, the company stated that it would have to look for ways to strengthen its capital in order to survive. In 2018, the Group suffered a loss of eighty million euros. In the first half of 2019, the company was in the red again. As a result of the continuing losses, the equity position has come under considerable pressure.
Preventing transfer of knowledge to China
Sources from the banking sector indicate that a Chinese company is also interested in the acquisition of IHC. However, HAL, a major shareholder of dredger Boskalis, and Dutch dredging/offshore contractor Van Oord and Belgian dredging/offshore company DEME have a strong interest in ensuring that IHC does not come into the possession of a Chinese competitor.
This would mean that the innovative technology and knowledge of the Kinderdijk-based shipbuilder would also land in Chinese hands. This would enable the Chinese to produce advanced dredgers themselves. IHC is the world market leader in this sector.
Picture by M.M. Minderhoud.