CHICAGO (Reuters) – Quintana Maritime Ltd, a provider of dry bulk cargo marine transportation services, announced late on Friday it has agreed to acquire 17 vessels from Metrobulk, a private Greek shipper, for about $735 million. Quintana, a shipping company based in Athens, Greece, said the deal will be funded with about $191 million of proceeds from a private placement, which was led by Dahlman Rose & Co and closed on Thursday. It said the rest of the price will be funded with a proposed new credit facility led by Fortis Bank, which was an adviser on the deal. The facility also will be used to refinance existing debt. «This transaction is transformational for Quintana as it positions us, post-acquisition, as one of the largest US-listed dry-bulk shipping companies by tonnage, with the youngest fleet,» Quintana Chief Executive Stamatis Molaris said in a statement. «The acquisition will become accretive in terms of cash flow per share in 2007 upon delivery of all the ships in that year,» he added. All the vessels are on long-term time charter to a wholly-owned subsidiary of soybean processor Bunge Ltd, Quintana said. The company’s founders, including affiliates of Corbin J. Robertson Jr, First Reserve Corp and AMCI International Inc, and members of management invested about $41.2 million in the private placement, or about 22 percent of the total gross proceeds to Quintana. Each unit consists of one share of 12 percent mandatorily convertible preferred stock and four Class A warrants to purchase an equal number of shares of common stock, Quintana said. Each share of preferred stock is mandatorily convertible into 12.5 shares of common stock upon the approval of the existing common shareholders, the company said. The warrants entitle holders to purchase an additional share of common stock at $8 per share at any time upon shareholder approval and within three years.