Shipping firm Vroon sells off UK wind farm subsidiary to reduce debts

An offshore wind farm. Photo:
MPI Offshore specialises in offshore wind farms. Photo:

Family-owned shipping company Rederij Vroon has sold its MPI Offshore division in order to reduce its substantial debt.

Vroon, which has been restructuring its operations since 2016, sold most of MPI to Dutch maritime service group Van Oord and a smaller part to Belgian dredging company Jan de Nul, the Financieele Dagblad said on Monday.

UK-based MPI specialises in wind turbine installation at offshore wind farms. Van Oord acquired most of the company plus two MPI vessels, their crews and existing contracts. Hundreds of jobs will be transferred  to Van Oord, the FD said.

A third MPI ship’s crew and contracts will be taken over by the Belgian company.  Both transactions are subject to approval of authorities and are expected to be completed in August. The sale will yield Vroon tens of millions of euros.

Recovery plan

In April Vroon agreed with creditors over the restructuring of its debts. The crisis in the oil and gas industry led to Vroon posting a loss of €170m in 2016, followed by further red ink last year. Vroon agreed to divest some of its subsidiaries in an effort to reduce debt.

Founded in 1890, Vroon originally exported agricultural products to England, France and Belgium while importing coal into the Netherlands.

However, after World War II the company switched its focus from trading commodities to owning and managing vessels. Vroon now operates and manages a diverse fleet of approximately 200 vessels.

The Vroon family has prospered over the years from its shipping activities. In 2017, pater familias Piet Vroon was ranked 29 in the Quote list of the 500 richest people in the Netherlands, with an estimated fortune of €900m.

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