Adsteam To Buy Howard Smith

Australia's Adsteam Marine Ltd.

agreed to buy Howard Smith Ltd.'s Australian and U.K. towage businesses for $248 million. Adsteam plans to use a $163 million bank debt facility from National Australia Bank Ltd. to finance the deal which includes the remaining 50 percent of its Australian towage joint ventures with Howard Smith as well as Howard Smith's wholly-owned Australian and U.K. towage businesses. It also plans to undertake an equity raising of A$180 million, underwritten by ABN AMRO Rothschild and UBS Warburg.

Prior to the acquisition of Howard Smith. Adsteam Marine was the largest operator of marine towage services in Australia with extensive other marine services operations in this country and overseas. The company has a history of providing marine services dating back to 1875. when it commenced operations as the former The Adelaide Steamship Company Limited group. Of the 51 ports requiring towage in Australia, Adsteam Marine has a towage presence in 33 ports and internationally has a fleet of more than 90 tugs either wholly owned or in partnership and joint venture operations. Its global maritime services operations were substantially expanded in 2000 through acquiring a 50 percent interest in U.S.-based Northland Holdings — the largest expansionary move by Adsteam Marine since its $160 million public float in 1997.

Northland later acquired the Bethel Fuel Sales Alaska-based fuel distribution business for $26.5 million.

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