Australia’s largest privately owned shipping operator put up for sale

Macquarie Capital has been hired to sell Australia’s largest privately owned shipping operator, Cairns, Queensland-based Sea Swift, reports the Australian Financial Review.

Sea Swift’s owners – a shareholder group led by private equity firm CHAMP Ventures and including Toll Holdings – are understood to have called in Macquarie’s bankers, with a target price of at least A$300m (US$212m).

Sea Swift operates across northern Australia, servicing remote and regional communities in far north Queensland and the Northern Territory.

It runs general cargo freight services, project and charter boats, mothershipping services and a small tourism business based out of Cairns.

Equasis lists with 24 ships in its fleet, a mix of general cargo ships, roros, utility and landing crafts.

The bulk of its business is in general cargo ferries.

Macquarie’s bankers apparently started reaching out to potential buyers late last week, including other shipping companies.

Today’s version Sea Swift was created by the merger of CHAMP Ventures’ Sea Swift and Toll’s Toll Marine in 2016. It is the only major end-to-end logistics provider in Northern Australia.

Sea Swift (Holdings) Pty Ltd recorded A$144.6m revenue in the 2018 financial year (in Australia, generally July to June), up from A$123.8m the year before. Assets were put at A$139.7m as at June 30, which included A$61.1m in property, plant and equipment.

The business was said to be worth about A$30m in annual EBITDA, hence the expectations of a A$300m-plus valuation.

Macquarie is expected launch a two-stage auction among interested parties, on a confidential basis.