Oppenheimer returns to VLGC takeover saga

Dorian LPG investor says shareholders should have a say on BW LPG offer and urges New York-listed owner to negotiate.

Oppenheimer + Close has urged Dorian LPG to let shareholders have a say on a merger proposal from rival BW LPG, providing a new chapter in a major takeover saga in the VLGC arena.

In a letter signed by Carl K Oppenheimer, the holder of 1.2 million Dorian shares also encouraged the company to negotiate with Oslo-listed BW LPG.

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The investor, which has held a stake in Dorian since its 2014 IPO, first voiced its views on the possible transaction in June when it said shareholders should be allowed to control their destiny.

Dorian rejected an initial offer, only for BW LPG to return with an improved bid and propose new directors for the target’s board.

John Hadjipateras-led Dorian announced in mid-July it would review the proposals with its financial and legal advisors.

In an interview with TradeWinds in late August Martin Ackermann, chief executive of Oslo-listed BW LPG, said the company had yet to hear back from Dorian eight weeks after submitting an improved bid.

Today Ackermann confirmed BW LPG was still to receive a formal response to its proposals.

In its latest letter Oppenheimer said it believed it was in the best interests of Dorian and its shareholders to engage constructively with BW LPG.

“We are now nearing mid-September and feel that the company has had more than ample time to evaluate BW’s offer and their board nominations,” Oppenheimer said.

It added: “We again encourage you to let all shareholders have their say.”

Efficiency advantages

Oppenheimer said a review of the second quarter operating results showed the VLGC market continued to be very challenging and was mindful of new sulphur emissions laws which may require additional debt to fund capital expenditure requirements.

Both Dorian and BW LPG are looking to use LPG fuel on a number of its ships to meet the sulphur cap.

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“Those with the most efficient operations will have a clear advantage and we believe that fleet consolidation is a clear path to that end,” Oppenheimer said.

The investor, which owns around 2.2% of Dorian, also questioned why the VLGC owner had yet to file its proxy, which was made available in July last year.

Feedback welcome

A spokesperson for Dorian told TradeWinds the company appreciated the feedback of all of its shareholders. Four days after the Oppenheimer letter, Dorian issued a statement revealing that the two sides met multiple times.

In June Dorian chief Hadjipateras revealed the company had offered to meet with its suitor to discuss an acquisition of BW LPG's eco-ships, to no avail.

Dorian’s board contains holders of around 25% of its shares. BW LPG holds over 14% of Dorian, while Charles Fabrikant’s Seacor, which owns 9.4% of Dorian, voiced support for a merger in July.

This story has been updated to include a reference and link to a later article following a statement from Dorian LPG.

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