BYLINE: By Linda Loyd; Inquirer Staff Writer
SECTION: BUSINESS; P-com Biz; Pg. A09
Yo! Philly. The region’s only commercial shipyard is getting a new name: Philly Shipyard.
Aker Philadelphia Shipyard said Thursday, after its board of directors met in Oslo, Norway, where parent company Aker ASA is located, that the Aker name is going away and that the yard will be called Philly Ship-yard, pending shareholder approval in October.
The name change was announced when second-quarter earnings were reported. A public company listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange, Aker posted second-quarter revenue of $83.7 million, compared with $60.3 million in the same period last year.
Net income for the latest quarter was $1.9 million, compared with $1.5 million the year before. The board approved a quarterly dividend of 25 cents a share to be paid on July 31.
Aker said it has an order backlog worth about $849 million to build new ships. Five product tankers are under construction.
The company employs about 1,100 at the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia.
Since last year, the majority owner of Aker Shipyard, Converto Capital Fund, an investment fund owned by Aker ASA, has been exploring “strategic initiatives” for the shipbuilder.
While Aker is “mainly focused on product tankers and large containerships,” the company said it “continues to pursue” other new construction projects, “including shuttle tankers, short-sea shipping vessels, off-shore service vessels, barges, and wind turbine installation vessels.”
Building ships that use liquefied natural gas (LNG) as fuel “continues to be a consideration for potential owners,” Aker said.
“Changing our name to Philly Shipyard more accurately reflects the shipyard we have become in recent years,” shipyard president and CEO Steinar Nerbovik said. “The new name also represents the proud tradi-tion of shipbuilding in Philly.”
Aker also announced Thursday plans to divest its ship-owning investments in a joint venture with Crowley Corp., and a venture with American Shipping Co. called Philly Tankers, for a total of eight product tankers with a contract value of $1 billion.
Aker said it expects that “two potential sale transactions” will be finalized in the current third quarter. The company did not disclose the name of the buyers.
“These assets provide a mechanism” for the shipyard “to achieve returns on the ownership, chartering, and operation of the vessels it builds, in addition to returns on traditional shipbuilding activities,” the company said in its earnings statement.
Kristian Rokke, the shipyard’s chairman, said, “The planned divestment of our shipping assets will show that we have created significant shareholder value and will greatly focus the business going forward.
“While we remain opportunistic in our investment approach, the name change comes at a natural time and will better illustrate how the shipyard connects with its stakeholders as a strong, stand-alone Philadelph-ia-based company,” Rokke said.
Aker has orders to build ships through December 2018 at the Navy Yard in compliance with the U.S. Jones Act, which requires all vessels shipping cargo between U.S. ports to be U.S.-built.
Formerly Kvaerner Philadelphia Shipyard, the commercial yard opened in 2000 on the site of the shuttered Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. The yard delivered its first ship in 2003 to Matson Navigation Co.