July 26 - Ten years after it first took a stake in the shipping company, and six years after it took complete control, Japan-based Kawasaki Kisen Kaisa ("K" Line) has sold SAL Heavy Lift to the Bremen, Germany-based shipping group Harren & Partner.

Speaking about a deal that had been much rumoured in the market place for some time, Martin Harren, managing director of Harren & Partner said: "We believe that this acquisition will ensure that both SAL and Harren & Partner are very well positioned for the future. In becoming the new dominant player in the super heavy lift market, we believe this will add strength to SAL and bring with it some much needed pricing discipline."

The value of the transaction has not been disclosed, although industry analysts suggest it will be nowhere near the price the "K" Line paid.

SAL will remain a separate brand with its headquarters in Hamburg. Its fleet of 15 heavy lift vessels will continue to operate under the SAL banner, 12 of which have lifting capacities in excess of 900 tonnes.

Harren & Partner - which also owns Combi Lift - and SAL will operate a fleet of 26 heavy lift ships, including multipurpose vessels with a lifting capacity up to 300 tonnes, dock ships, and offshore construction vessels with DP2 and a combined crane capacity of up to 2,000 tonnes.

SAL will also manage the CL 900/Type 116 lo-lo vessels, as well as the Combi Dock I and III semi-submersible heavy lift ships in the future.

Justin Archard, corporate commercial director of SAL, says: "This extends our scope of action to develop customised solutions that meet the toughest individual demands. This new format will help us develop even higher standards in maritime transport logistics and project engineering."

Combi Lift will update its market approach in line with the SAL acquisition.

"K" Line took a 50 percent shareholding in SAL in 2007. In 2011 "K" Line exercised an option to purchase the remaining 50 percent stake and become the full owners of the line.

In a statement issued by "K" Line, it said that SAL Heavy Lift has struggled since the 2008 financial crisis and the profitability of owning asset has been depressed, being heavily affected by low prices in energy markets.

A spokesperson from SAL Heavy Lift said that Harren & Partner's core business is ship management and the synergies that would be realised will enable the line to "come out even stronger".