Åland-based ferry company Viking Line has acquired 17.1% of the parent company of Eckerö Line both parties have confirmed. The transaction could be significant as Viking Line and Eckerö compete on the popular Helsinki – Tallinn corridor.
Viking’s 17.1% stake in Rederiaktiebolaget Eckerö (Rederi AB Eckerö) makes it the largest individual shareholder, though Viking’s holding is someway off the combined holding of the Mansén family and their interests. Chairperson of the board, Marika Mansén has said that the family has no plans to sell and welcomes Viking’s investment.
It remains to be seen whether Viking Line moves to increase its ownership of Eckerö in the future. It would seem unlikely, however, that they will pay a similar price to the low 30 euro per share that they paid for their current stake given the fragmented shareholding of Eckerö.
Officially Viking Line has stated that their purchase was to ensure that ownership of Eckerö remained on Åland. This perhaps suggests that an outside company may have been interested in acquiring the stake.
Who are Rederi AB Eckerö?
The Rederi AB Eckerö group currently comprises four different companies. Eckerö Line operates ferry services between Helsinki and Tallinn as well as Vuosaari and Muuga. They own the Ro-Pax ferries FINLANDIA and FINBO CARGO. Eckerö Linjen operates the ferry service between Grisslehamn and Eckerö using the passenger and vehicle ferry ECKERÖ.
Eckerö Shipping (formerly Birka Cargo) previously provided Ro-Ro services using its three owned Ro-Ro ferries, specialising in exporting forestry products from the Nordic countries. Earlier this month, Eckerö announced the charter and planned sale of two of these vessels to Norwest Ship Management. The third vessel, TRANSPORTER, is on long-term charter to DFDS.
The fourth business in the Eckerö group is Willams Buss which offers local bus services on Åland. Viking Line also owns an Åland bus company, Viking Line Buss. A fifth Eckerö business, Birka Cruises, was shut down in July 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Its sole vessel, the cruise ship BIRKA STOCKHOLM, was laid up in Mariehamn and is listed for sale.