SOUTH Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has signed a definitive agreement with state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB) to buy Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME), which would result in the merger of the nation's two largest shipyards if the deal goes through.
In January, KDB, which owns a 55 per cent stake in DSME, signed a preliminary agreement to sell its stake to HHI, the world's largest shipyard, but remained open to hearing an offer from Samsung Heavy as well. Samsung Heavy, however, turned down an offer to bid, reported Korea's Yonhap news agency.
Under the agreement, estimated at more than KRW2 trillion (US$1.76 billion), KDB will transfer its DMSE stocks to a subholding company to be established by HHI to control the group's shipbuilding companies, which is tentatively called Korea Shipbuilding and Offshore Engineering (KSOE), in return for equity stake in KSOE, reports American Shipper.
Kwon Oh-Gap, vice chairman and CEO of HHI Holdings, said: "HHI Group's post-acquisition strategy is to have its four shipyards, which would now include DSME as the latest addition to the group's portfolio of shipbuilding business, focused on design, manufacturing and sales activities, which will be controlled by KSOE specialised in R&D and engineering, with a view to taking HHI Group's competitiveness to the next level."
In a joint statement, the two sides said DMSE's management structure would remain unchanged, ensured employment security for DSME workers and said DSME's relationships with existing business partners will continue. Hyundai Heavy and KDB said they will form a joint consultation group to collect stakeholders' opinions and a commission, tentatively named the Korea Shipbuilding Industry Development Commission, will be formed consisting of industry, government and academia experts to restore the shipbuilding industry's ecosystem.
They also said they will "fast-track procedures required to complete the transaction and minimise any possible vacuum in management that could result."
Unionised workers of Hyundai Heavy and DSME who were against the deal clashed with police as they tried to enter the building and interrupt the signing ceremony, according to Korean Broadcasting System.
Yonhap news agency reported Hyundai Heavy had an order backlog of 11.14 million compensated gross tonnes (CGT) as of last year and DMSE has a backlog of 5.84 million CGTs. Their combined backlog made up 21.2 per cent of the world's total amount.