Stelios to back $843 mln takeover bid for Stelmar

LONDON (Reuters) – Entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou agreed on Wednesday to back a $843 million takeover of Stelmar Shipping Ltd, the Greek shipping company he founded before striking gold with budget airline easyJet. Haji-Ioannou, who has taken his «easy» brand into markets from car rental to financial services, said he would back a $48 per share offer from shipbuilder Overseas Shipholding Group Inc at a shareholder meeting in New York on Jan. 20. Haji-Ioannou founded Stelmar in 1992 and with his family owns about 20 percent of the business. He was instrumental in scuppering a previous takeover attempt. «The time has come for me to move on and focus into what I consider to be my core competence, which is branding,» Haji-Ioannou said in a statement. US-based Stelmar agreed last month to be acquired by OSG after two previous bids for the company failed. Haji-Ioannou led shareholder opposition to an earlier, $703 million cash buyout by private equity firm Fortress Investment Group LLC. Stelmar management rejected an unsolicited stock bid, initially worth $562.8 million, from Connecticut-based OMI Corp in May last year.