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Tropical Shipping being sold to Seattle-based company for $220 million

NEWSFLASH: Saltchuk to buy Tropical Shipping

Saltchuk Resources said it will acquire Tropical Shipping, a company that operates ships between the U.S. and Canada and the islands in the Caribbean and Bahamas, from AGL Resources, an Atlanta-based natural gas utility holding company.

AGL Resources did not say what the sale price was, but said, "after-tax cash proceeds and repatriated cash from the transaction are expected to be approximately $220 million, subject to certain defined post-closing adjustments." 

Saltchuk is the parent company of several other transportation companies, including the U.S.-flag carriers Sea Star Line, which moves freight between the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico; and Totem Ocean Trailer Express, which operates between Tacoma, Washington, and Anchorage, Alaska.

By Susan Salisbury

Palm Beach County Fire Rescue

Tropical Shipping, headquartered at the Port of Palm Beach in Riviera Beach, is being sold for approximately $220 million to a subsidiary of Saltchuk Resources, Inc., of Seattle.

Tropical shipping is currently owned by Atlanta-based AGL Resources Inc. (NYSE: GAS), which today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to sell Tropical to Saltchuk.

In October AGL said it had begun an investigation into payments made to “local officials and other persons” at one of the foreign ports serviced by Tropical, according to its annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The payments were made over a series of years and were less than $200,000, AGL said.

“In October 2013, we voluntarily disclosed these matters to the U.S. Department of Justice and the SEC. We will cooperate with any investigation by the DOJ or the SEC. We presently are unable to predict the duration, scope or result of this investigation or of any governmental investigation,” 
AGL said in the report.

Tropical officials did not immediately return a call for comment Monday.

“We are very pleased to have identified Saltchuk as a well-qualified strategic owner of Tropical Shipping. We are confident that becoming a member of the Saltchuk family, with their deep roots in the transportation, logistics and maritime industries, will guarantee a continued bright future for Tropical Shipping and its employees and valued customers,” 
said Andrew W. Evans, executive vice president and chief financial officer for AGL Resources.

“We have consistently noted that AGL Resources’ strategic focus is on owning and operating regulated natural gas utilities and related assets. While we have been responsible stewards of Tropical Shipping for the duration of our ownership, and have worked diligently to successfully increase profitability over the last two years, we have deliberately sought a more strategic owner for these assets,” Evans said.

In 1982, Birdsall Inc. and Tropical, its only subsidiary, were acquired by Nicor Inc., a diversified natural gas utility, energy products and transportation company.

In December 2011, Nicor, and Tropical along with it, were acquired by AGL Resources in a $2.5 billion deal. AGL’s takeover of Nicor created what is now the nation’s largest natural gas-distribution company.

AGL Resources expected the cargo shipping segment in total to contribute EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) of approximately $15 million to $25 million in 2014, including $9 million from its investment in Triton Container, which is not part of the sale.

Completion of the transaction is conditioned upon, among other things, the expiration or termination of any applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 and approval by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. The companies expect to complete the transaction within 90 days.

Tropical Shipping is a transporter of dry and refrigerated containerized cargo and provides scheduled logistics services to and from the U.S. and Canada to 25 ports in the Bahamas and Caribbean, including scheduled inter-island services between Caribbean ports. 

Other related services, such as inland transportation, global logistics, less than container load cargo, consolidation, project cargo management and cargo insurance also are provided by Tropical Shipping and its other related companies.

Saltchuk is one of the nation’s leading freight transportation and distribution companies. Founded in 1982, Saltchuk is based in Seattle and is a second-generation family business. 

Tropical will be Saltchuk’s fifth transportation business unit of international shipping, joining its domestic shipping, tug and barge, air cargo and trucking businesses.

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