Kistefos demands seat at Trico Marine’s table

HOUSTON: Oslo-based Kistefos AS, the largest shareholder in support vessel services provider Trico Marine Services, has sent a letter to Trico’s board of directors requesting that Kistefos Chairman Christen Sveaas and CEO Age Korsvold be appointed to the board, and asking that Trico declassify its board of directors.

The letter warned that Kistefos is prepared to take “all appropriate steps” to accomplish its goals, including shareholder action at a special meeting. Private investment firm Kistefos owns 22.8 percent of Trico Marine’s outstanding common stock. Kistefos attributed their actions to Trico Marine’s “poor performance and extraordinary loss of shareholder value” over the past year. After reaching US$43.23 in April 2008, Trico Marine shares have fallen 90 percent in value. The company’s indebtedness has increased to over US$800 million in the last year, and its ratio of debt to enterprise value is over 90 percent. Kistefos alleges a litany of poorly regarded business decisions, including failure to maximize returns in its core supply fleet while making insufficient investments in renewing and enhancing the fleet, failure to capitalize on the recent opportunities in the charter market and initiating an “ill timed fundamental change in its business focus” by making acquisitions in the subsea segment. As a non-U.S. company, Kistefos also wants an end to Trico Marine’s Jones Act fleet, as it restricts foreign share ownership and limits the demand for and liquidity of Trico Marine shares. The letter also accused Trico Marine of having a hostile attitude towards shareholders, giving as examples the discontinuation of a share buy back program, adopting advance notice bylaws and maintaining “opaque disclosure properties.” Trico Marine officials were unavailable for comment.

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