Ezra Holdings nears sale of subsea unit stake to Japan's Chiyoda

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Ezra Holdings Ltd., the Singapore-based provider of offshore marine services, is nearing a deal to sell about a 50 per cent stake in its subsea business to Japanese engineering firm Chiyoda Corp., people with knowledge of the matter said.

The transaction could value Ezra's subsea business at more than US$1 billion (S$1.40 billion) including debt, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. Ezra shares were suspended from trading in Singapore Thursday, pending an announcement.

The deal would come after Ezra sold its offshore marine supporting operations to its Oslo-listed affiliate, EOC Ltd., for US$520 million last year. That move allowed Ezra to focus more on the growing subsea services market, where it competes with global rivals including Technip SA and Saipem SpA.

Ezra shares have fallen 64 percent this year, giving the company a market value of US$239 million. A representative for the Singapore-based company didn't answer phone calls and didn't immediately respond to an e-mail and mobile-phone text message seeking comment.

A spokesman for Chiyoda, based in Yokohama City, didn't answer a call to his office and an e-mail seeking comment. Chiyoda's public-relations team didn't immediately respond to a message sent through the company's website seeking comment.