Canada's biggest shipbuilder, Davie, plans to buy the Helsinki Shipyard.
The Russian-owned yard has been floundering due to western sanctions, even though its owners have not been directly targeted by sanctions against Russia over the war on Ukraine.
On Sunday, the shipyard said that has announced the exercise of its exclusive option to purchase its assets. In other words, Davie is the only party with whom the shipyard is negotiating a potential deal.
The deal has not yet been clinched, though. The shipyard noted that "it is subject to the successful execution of thorough due diligence, including financial, regulatory and legal considerations, as well as final decision making by Davie."
"If the acquisition is successful, it would combine two historic and highly complementary businesses creating the western world’s leading international centre of excellence for Arctic shipbuilding," Davie CEO James Davies said in a press release.
The two firms said that the ongoing process is otherwise confidential, and that they will provide any more information until a possible deal is struck. The daily Helsingin Sanomat was the first to report on the negotiations.
Davie's Chief Communications Officer Paul Barrett told the paper that the negotiations are at an advanced stage and that the deal could be sealed within weeks.
Due to the sanctions against Russia, Helsinki Shipyard's business with Russia has been frozen. The Helsinki Shipyard company filed for bankruptcy last autumn due to unpaid claims. However, the company paid its debts, and the bankruptcy petition was withdrawn.
Helsinki Shipyard is currently owned by Algador Holdings, a Cyprus-based investment company set up by Russian businessmen Vladimir Kasyanenko and Rishat Bagautdinov, who also own Russia's biggest river cruise ship operator. No sanctions have been imposed on the owners.
In 2019 Yle's investigative news programme Mot reported that Kasyanenko has a Belgian passport, homes in Monaco and southeast Finland, and a long-term business partnership with Viktor Olerski, former deputy minister for maritime affairs in Vladimir Putin's administration.
Russian ownership since 2010
The Helsinki Shipyard, established in 1865, specialises in Arctic shipbuilding, including icebreakers. It has changed hands and names many times.
After being owned by Wärtsilä for decades, it operated as Kvaerner Masa-Yards and Aker Yards. In 2010, it became Arctech after STX Europe partly sold it to the Russian United Shipbuilding Corporation, which became the sole owner in 2014. It has built several icebreaking vessels for Russia's largest shipping firm, Sovcomflot. Algador took over in 2019.
Davie, founded in Quebec in 1825, builds and operates special vessels, such as icebreakers, ferries and warships. For instance, it currently leases a major combat support ship to the Royal Canadian Navy, which uses it to support Nato operations.