$843mln for Stelmar

NEW YORK (AP) – Overseas Shipholding Group Inc. agreed to acquire Stelmar Shipping Ltd. of Greece for about $843 million, plus assumed debt, in a deal that creates one of the world’s largest publicly traded oil-tanker companies. Including assumed debt, the deal is valued at $1.3 billion, Overseas said yesterday. Under the terms of the deal, which is expected to close in January, Overseas will pay $48 for each share of Stelmar, an Athens-based shipper serving major multinational oil companies, state-owned oil producers and other shippers. The offer – which topped previous bids by other suitors – is an 8 percent premium to Friday’s closing price for Stelmar shares of $44.32, which was up 68 cents, or 1.6 percent. New York-based Overseas, with 2003 revenue of $454.1 million, operates oceangoing bulk cargo vessels in the United States and in a number of other countries. The deal would give it an additional 40 oil and petroleum tankers, swelling its fleet to 91 international flag vessels. In November, Stelmar received a $42-a-share offer from an unidentified bidder, after shareholders rejected a sweetened offer from Fortress Investment Group LLC of $40 a share, or about $703 million. Company founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who with his family holds about 20 percent of Stelmar, was instrumental in rallying shareholders to reject the Fortress deal. At the time, Haji-Ioannou said an all-cash deal undervalued Stelmar during a booming market for shipping firms.