Billion-Dollar Bidding War Leads to Largest Shipping Deal of the Year So Far

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In a transaction that could reshape the landscape of domestic energy transportation, private transportation titan Saltchuk Resources is acquiring publicly-traded Overseas Shipholding Group (OSG) for $950 million. The deal will see OSG, one of the leading providers of liquid bulk transportation services for crude oil and petroleum products in the U.S., become a subsidiary of the diversified Saltchuk group.

The acquisition crowns months of corporate maneuvering and deal-making. It began in late January when Saltchuk, already a significant OSG shareholder, made public its non-binding indication of interest to buy the shipowner outright at $6.25 per share. OSG’s board undertook a review of strategic alternatives, engaging with not just Saltchuk but other potential suitors.

That process culminated in Saltchuk’s winning bid of $8.50 per share – a hefty 61% premium to OSG’s price before word of Saltchuk’s initial approach leaked out. Unanimously approved by both companies’ boards, the cash tender offer values OSG’s equity at $653 million.

For Saltchuk, the deal represents a lucrative double down on the Jones Act shipping sector that ensures American crew, boats and resources are utilized for shipping between U.S. ports. OSG boasts a sizable fleet of U.S.-flagged vessels including shuttle tankers, ATBs, and Suezmax crude carriers serving energy industry customers.

“OSG, our nation’s leading domestic marine transporter of energy, has a strong cultural fit with Saltchuk and shares our commitment to operational safety, reliability, and environmental stewardship,” remarked Mark Tabbutt, Saltchuk’s Chairman.

Acquiring OSG significantly expands Saltchuk’s marine services footprint to complement its existing freight transportation and energy distribution operations under brands like TOTE Maritime, Foss Maritime, NorCal Van & Stor, and Hawaii Petroleum. With over $5 billion in consolidated annual revenues, the private Seattle-based holding company gains increased exposure to the lucrative end markets for moving and handling oil, gas and refined products.

From OSG’s perspective, the sale unlocks a premium acquisition price while providing long-term operational stability by tucking into Saltchuk’s family of companies. OSG President and CEO Sam Norton expressed enthusiasm about “soon joining the Saltchuk family of companies” and gaining access to its resources.

However, the deal must first clear customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. The tender offer is expected to be completed within the next few months, after which any remaining shares will be acquired in a second-step merger. While the acquisition enjoys board support, OSG shareholders will ultimately determine whether to tender their stakes.

If successful, the combination of OSG’s expertise in Jones Act petroleum shipping with Saltchuk’s scale and diversification could create a new domestic energy shipping powerhouse. But questions remain whether the lofty valuation and integration will pay off for the private buyers in an industry facing headwinds from the transition to cleaner fuels. Regardless, this megadeal indicates the importance both parties place on securing reliable domestic shipping services to keep U.S. energy production on the move.


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