Røkke wins control of Kværner

In a twelfth hour change of mind, Kværner decided in the early hours of Wednesday to merge with archrival Aker Maritime. The agreement is backed by Kværners second largest shareholder Yukos Oil. It means billionaire Kjell Inge Røkke will achieve his dream of gaining full control of Kværner, writes the online edition of financial daily Dagens Næringsliv. Kværner's board reached the agreement with Aker Maritime's chairman Kjell Inge Røkke and other board members soon after 2 a.m. on Wednesday, reports dn.no. The new formula closely resembles a rescue plan put forward by Aker Maritime last Thursday, which failed to win the support of either Kværner's board or the construction and engineering giant's second largest shareholder Yukos Oil of Russia. Yukos proposed its own rescue plan for Kværner a month ago that included a NOK 3 billion rights issue, a conversion of NOK 4.5 billion of debt into a redeemable, zero-coupon, 10-year subordinated convertible note and rescheduling of loan payments. This option was backed by Kværner's board and many of its top investors, but not by the company's biggest shareholder Kjell Inge Røkke and would therefore been derailed at an extraordinary general meeting on Thursday 29th November, specifically convened for the purpose of approving this plan. However, Yukos announced on Wednesday that it had been approached regarding the ongoing negotiations between Kværner and Aker Maritime. It said it was aware the Yukos rescue plan would not receive the necessary 2/3 support at Thursday's shareholders meeting. Therefore, said the Russian oil company, in recognition of its responsibility for avoiding Kværner's liquidation, it had decided to support the terms of the agreement between Kværner and Aker Maritime and withdraw its rescue plan.