DUTCH port and maritime services group Royal Boskalis NV is to buy all remaining shares in Smit Lamnalco, signalling the end of an earlier deal for SL to be sold to Spanish towage operator Boluda.

In an announcement overnight Boskalis said it had signed an agreement to acquire all remaining shares (50%) in SL, which hitherto has been a joint venture with Saudi Arabia’s Rezayat Group. 

“Smit Lamnalco offers terminal services and had annual revenue of approximately US$275 million and EBITDA of US$100 million in 2023,” Boskalis said. “This transaction is subject to customary conditions including the approval of regulatory authorities.”

On 10 February 2023 Boluda Corporación Marítima announced the purchase of the world’s fifth-largest towage operator, SL, from Boskalis and Rezayat for an undisclosed price. Boluda said the acquisition would add around 111 vessels to Boluda’s towage division and enable the company to strengthen its foothold in strategic markets such as Australia, the Middle East and West Africa.

At the time Boluda said the deal, which was subject to regulatory approval in several countries, would make its towage business a world leader, with a fleet of 600 tugboats and high growth potential, as well as the capacity to further consolidate the sector.

However, the transaction was never completed, amidst overseas reports of complications caused by Smit assets effectively ‘trapped’ in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine and resulting sanctions. More recently there was speculation that with the Boluda deal stalemated Boskalis would instead buy out Rezayat, and that has now come to pass.

Boskalis did not comment on the failure of the Boluda takeover.

SL operates harbour and terminal tugs in Australia and PNG, and has just taken over AMSA’s ETV contract for the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait with the AHTS Reef Keeper. Comment was sought from Smit Lamnalco Australia but no response had been received at press time.