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James Fisher & Sons to sell Subtech Swordfish Dive Support Vessel

James Fisher sells vessel for £20m in effort to slash debts as analysts praise ‘extremely positive transaction’

  • James Fisher & Sons has entered into an agreement to sell the Swordfish vessel
  • Analysts at Peel Hunt, said: ‘We see this as an extremely positive transaction’ 

James Fisher & Sons has entered into an agreement to sell a marine services vessel to India-based Seamec Limited for around £19.8million.

The Subtech Swordfish Dive Support Vessel, which contributed around £400,000 in gross profit last year, has been on contract with an international energy services company this year, supporting diving activities in the Middle East. 

Analysts praised the deal as shares in James Fisher rose on Wednesday, jumping 1.57 per cent or 6.06p to 391.56p in afternoon trading. 

Deal: James Fisher & Sons has entered into an agreement to sell the Subtech Swordfish Dive Support Vessel

The fresh agreement will enable the Cumbria-based group to maintain access to the vessel until the end of the third quarter next year, allowing it to complete existing and potential commitments. 

In a stock market statement, James Fisher, said: ‘The sale of the Swordfish is a further demonstration of the Group’s previously announced asset-light strategy. 

‘The Group is establishing partnerships with vessel owners to facilitate access to multiple dive support vessels in the region.’

It added: ‘The transaction remains subject to completion of the formal sale process, including issuing of Notice of Readiness and completion of flag requirements.’ 

Analysts at Peel Hunt, said: ‘We see this as an extremely positive transaction, given the premium to book value and as the Swordfish’s gross profit contribution prior to indirect overheads was only £0.4million in 2021. 

‘The proceeds are to be used to reduce debt: including the disposals of the three businesses last week, this should fall £36-40million compared to our forecasts, which we leave unchanged until January’s trading update.’

On 19 December, James Fisher revealed it had sold three of its businesses, in two separate transactions while seeking to boost its balance sheet and cut its net debt. 

Mimic and the UK arm of Strainstall were sold to British Engineering Services for £13.6million, while Prolec was offloaded to Germany-based Kinshofer.

The group posted revenue growth of 2 per cent to £238.4million for the six months ending 30 June, but its underlying operating profit fell by 28.6 per cent to £9.5million. The group said ‘business mix held back operating profit’.

The firm’s net debt on 30 June was £172.4million, against £189.2million at the same time a year ago. 

On the dividend front, the group said in September: ‘The Board remains committed to reintroducing a sustainable and progressive dividend policy at the appropriate time. 

‘However, considering our current absolute levels of net debt and the resulting leverage ratio, the Board has not declared an interim dividend for 2022 (2021: Nil).’


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