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By John Helmer, Moscow

The state-owned maritime conglomerate, United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), will acquire the Vyborg Shipyard, on the Gulf of Finland near St. Petersburg, the USC spokesman Alexei Kravchenko confirmed to Fairplay in Moscow on Friday.

He said the yard, a specialist in the construction of floating oil and gas-drilling rigs and ship components, is of interest to USC, which has been negotiating the takeover terms for months. The interest, Kravchenko added, is that Vyborg “is a very modern enterprise capable of modernization, which can build ships of the USC profile at affordable prices.”

Industry sources and wire services in Moscow are citing USC chief executive Roman Trotsenko as saying the deal, to be finalized in the second quarter of this year, will be at a price of Rb2.5 billion ($81 million) for a stake of 79.33%. This, reports Renaissance Capital analyst Mikhail Safin, indicates a valuation of the entire company of $102.1 million. That represents a premium of 78% over the mid-market price for the publicly listed but rarely traded Vyborg shares (VSSZ:RU), according to Safin. According to Bloomberg reports, Vyborg’s share price slipped steadily downwards last year on low-volume trading, even after there was speculation of a sale to USC in mid-year. On the Bloomberg data, the reported takeover price represents a 67% premium over last week’s quoted share price; but more than double Vyborg’s price before it picked up on the takeover news at the end of last month:

One of those selling out who will benefit from the bumper pricing of the deal is reported to be Nikolai Shamalov, who currently holds a 21.73% stake in the yard. Shamalov (image, right middle), a founder and stakeholder of Bank Rossiya, is described in the Russian press as a close associate of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Elena Pavlova, spokesman for Bank Rossiya, said her organization does not have contact details for Shamalov.

The Vyborg Shipyard was asked to say who the selling shareholders are, and who stands behind a Cyprus-registered company called Dolman Holding Ltd,. which has been reported in the Russian press as holding a 24.99% shareholding. A source at Vyborg confirmed that the current shareholders include Dolman, and three others on the board – Alexander Petrov (8.272%), Natalia Belikova (3.62%), and Georgy Poryadin (3.62%). Who owns Dolman isn’t disclosed. However, Vyborg says it isn’t Dmitry Gorelov, another Bank Rossiya stakeholder, or his son Vasily; the company website reports they have moved in and out of shareholding and the board of directors; Dmitry continues to be listed as a member of the board. More than 30% of Vyborg’s shares are not accounted for by the published shareholder lists.

There have been press reports that for several months of the talks so far, Trotsenko, Shamalov and others could not agree on the buy-out price. For USC, Kravchenko said the takeover price has not yet been finalized.

The yard’s order book is heavily dependent on state funding, including ice-class vessels for Sovcomflot; offshore drilling rigs for Gazprom, auxiliary ships built for the Defense Ministry; and components for a new diesel-powered icebreaker ordered by the state ports agency, Rosmorport.

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