Shareholder Fincantieri ups Vard stake to 79.69%; shipbuilder bags contract for luxury cruise icebreaker

SINGAPORE - Mainboard-listed Vard Holdings announced on Tuesday (Dec 19) that majority shareholder Fincantieri SpA has, through a subsidiary, increased its stake in the company to 79.69 per cent, through shares acquired on Dec 18 at S$0.25 apiece.

The acquisition is part of Fincantieri's announcement that it wants to privatise shipbuilder Vard, and brings the Italian company's holdings in Vard to around 940 million shares as at 5pm on Dec 18.

Fincantieri held just a 55.6 per cent stake in November 2016 when it launched an offer at 24 Singapore cents per share to take Vard private. That offer price was an 11.63 per cent premium to Vard's one-month volume-weighted average price at the time.

Fincantieri said it has no plans to change Vard's existing business, but wants to fully integrate Vard with its other subsidiaries.

Separately, Vard announced it will design and build a luxury polar expedition cruise vessel for French cruise company Ponant in a contract valued at 2.7 billion Norwegian kroner (S$433.27 million), with delivery scheduled in the second quarter of 2021 from Vard's Norway facilities.

The ship will be built at Vard Tulcea in Romania, and the company describes it as the very first electric hybrid cruise icebreaker with dual fuel propulsion, powered by both high-capacity batteries and LNG (liquefied natural gas).

The luxury icebreaker will be around 30,000 gross tonnes, about 150m long, 28m wide and will have a cruise speed of 15 knots in open water.

The ship can house 270 passengers in 135 staterooms, together with a crew of 180, and also features two helicopters stored in onboard hangars.

Vard has four other luxury expedition cruise vessels under construction for Ponant, with the first vessel in the series to be delivered in Q2 2018, followed by delivery of the next three vessels from late 2018 to mid 2019.