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Dutch court rules on Fairstar

Last month, an Amsterdam court ruled that the former directors of Fairstar Heavy Transport must pay compensation to the owners of the company, following the purchase of a semi-submersible vessel.

White Marlin. Photo credit: Boskalis

Fairstar Heavy Transport was acquired in its entirety by the Netherlands-headquartered Dockwise in a hostile takeover during 2012. At that time, Fairstar’s fleet consisted of two semi-submersible vessels - Fjord and Fjell. It had three further vessels on order with Guangzhou Shipyard International (GSI), Forte and Finesse and Fathom.

The court ruling suggests that it was “‘irresponsible” to order the fifth vessel, Fathom, and the arrangements for the shipbuilding contract were unbeknown to Dockwise when they launched their unsolicited offer for Fairstar in April 2012. Dockwise ultimately went ahead with the construction of the fifth ship after making significant changes to the original design. The vessel was later christened White Marlin, as HLPFI reported here.

Dockwise was subsequently acquired by Dutch marine contractor Royal Boskalis Westminster in 2013.

Philip Adkins, ceo at Red Box Energy Services and former ceo of Fairstar, was sanguine on the court’s ruling and questioned Boskalis’ motives for bringing the case to trial: “My view is that this ruling is a huge defeat for Boskalis, because the entire motivation [behind this case] was always based on anti-competition. Did they succeed in this effort? No they did not. The court found their claims against me to be baseless and Red Box has emerged in the last five years as the industry leader in the marine transportation of modules for LNG liquefaction projects. If Boskalis wants to keep me and the Red Box team out of the market, they would be better off hiring a hit man. It will be more effective than the courts and cost a lot less than the money they wasted on legal fees.”

A spokesperson from Boskalis said that the company was satisfied with the positive outcome of the trial: “This is confirmation of a ruling from a couple of years ago that had to be redone and that [original] ruling has been reaffirmed.

"From here forwards, it is case of wait and see what the amount of financial damages are, which the judges have to ascertain and determine,” the spokesperson added.

“Wishful thinking” said Adkins when asked to comment on any potential damages.

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