Hawaii's Matson bails out bankrupt Reef Shipping

NYSE-listed shipping company Matson, which services the northern Pacific, has agreed to buy Reef Shipping from its receivers to extend its reach into the South Pacific.

No price was disclosed for the deal in a statement from the Honolulu-based company. Matson will acquire four vessels and about 1500 pieces of container equipment from Auckland-based Reef Shipping, which was placed in receivership last month. The deal is expected to settle around year-end.

Matson has 17 vessels running between Hawaii, Guam and Micronesia as well as a service between China and Southern California.

The acquisition will add routes between Auckland, Fiji, Nauru, the Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Samoa, the Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, Wallis and Futuna, Vanuatu, Tarawa and Majuro, it says.

"While the purchase itself is relatively small, it complements our growing network of Pacific island services," Matson chief executive Matt Cox says.

Shares of Matson have fallen about 11% since the company began trading as a separate company in July, having been spun off from parent Alexander & Baldwin, a Hawaiian real estate and property development company.

Matson made an operating profit of $US79 million in 2011 on revenue of $US1.5 billion.

Colin McCloy and David Bridgman, of PwC, were appointed receivers of Reef Group on November 26, keeping the business operating while they looked for a buyer.

Reef Group is 89% owned by Phillip McNicholl and Darrin Johannink, according to the Companies Office. Former All Black Michael Jones is listed as a smaller shareholder.

Its interests include the supply of bulk fuel to Pacific islands, exports of noni juice from Niue and long-line fishing vessels.

Matson has been in business for about 130 years, its website says.


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