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NAVY SHIPBUILDING COSTS
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December 16, 2009

Halter Marine parent bids for Bender

VT Halter Marine's parent, VT Systems, has offered $21 million cash for Bender Shipbuilding & Repair Co.'s Mobile shipyard, making it the "stalking horse" in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy auction process.

VT Systems, which is making the bid through an entity identified in court documents as Vision Technologies Marine, Inc., is the U.S. subsidiary of Singapore's ST Engineering.

To beat out VT Halter Marine for the Mobile shipyard, any other bidder would have to offer more than $1.5 million more and be able to close within three days of the court ordering a sale. The deadline for bids is January 11, 2010.

Back in October, there were reports that an auction would be held by December 15, with Dallas private-equity firm SunTx Capital Partners as the initial bidder stalking horse. Reportedly, had SunTX Capital won that auction, it would have retained the yard's current management. Bender's unsecured creditors said in court filings that the sale was being pursued to quickly and would not net the highest value possible for the assets.

Now an auction is scheduled on Jan. 14, according to court documents--and if VT Systems emerges as the winner it seems highly unlikely that ultimate owner, ST Engineering in Singapore, would retain the current Bender management.

If a higher bid is approved by the bankruptcy court, Bender must pay $850,000 to VT Halter, plus up to $400,000 in expenses, according to court documents.

According to an information packet sent to potential buyers, the Mobile shipyard property includes six repair/construction yards, three steel floating dry docks, and other equipment on 26 acres. It has 3,300 feet of deepwater frontage.


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