Sverre Farstad lost his company to the competitor. Now he's betting again.



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Two years after Farstad Shipping became part of Solstad, Sverre Farstad is ready for a new venture.

"I think many thought it was a rather wrong way to write the story and define the phrase. There is a lot of motivation and motivation to get something here. And not least experience a lot, says Svein Leon Aure.

He will lead the new shipping company and will have a long time at Farstad Shipping. Together with Aure, Farstad worked during the winter and spring to establish a new company that will operate offshore vessels.

The new company was named Sverre Farstad and Co As and was approved by DNV-GL for shipping operations.

Ready to hoist the flag

At the Farstadgården office in Ålesund, the offshore owner proudly displays the new flag. The desire to work is still in place.

"Svein Leon told me early that he wanted to bet. So we had to bring some with more capital, and then we wanted it to be local, says Farstad.

With them on the team, they hired Roger Halsebakk, who built the world's largest well-boat company, Sølvtrans, and then began to loosen up.

– Here we find common interest. Roger also sees the importance of strengthening the maritime cluster we have here in Sunnmøre and has been very positive, says Farstad.

Halsebakk will also be on the board of the new shipping company, where Farstad becomes chairman of the board.

Svein Leon Aure and Sverre Farstad have established a new offshore navigation company. Photo: Marius Simensen

– years old

"I will not hide that there have been some bad years. But for the past year I've been thinking of new courses, and the crisis has also provided important learning for the family, Farstad says about what happened to Farstad Shipping.

When the offshore market slowed, several felt that Farstad Shipping would act quickly to refinance, survive as an independent player and take a leadership role in consolidation.

Farstad Shipping ASA

  • Farstad Shipping ASA was based in Ålesund.
  • Farstad was founded in 1988 as Far Shipping after starting the supply business for the North Sea oil business as early as 1973 through the family-owned company Sverre Farstad & Co.
  • The shipping company had more than 50 supply vessels, tugboats and anchor-handling vessels operating in the North Sea, South America, West Africa, Australia and Southeast Asia.
  • As of June 2017, Farstad Shipping became a subsidiary in Solstad Farstad, now called Solstad Offshore.

Source: SNL / Sysla

In November 2016, Farstad and investor Kristian Siem signed a non-binding letter of intent for a rescue package for the shipping company. But in May of the following year, the message came that the parties had been unable to find a restructuring solution that creditors would accept.

At the last minute, Tom Hestnes, senior portfolio manager at Alfred Berg Kapitalforvaltning, entered into an agreement with the companies of Kjell Inge Røkke and John Fredriksen. This really became the coffin nail to a solution that would keep the shipping company's headquarters in Ålesund.

The result was that Farstad became part of Solstad, which had already taken control of Rem Offshore. Solstad would be the leader of the consolidated group, based in Skudneshavn in Karmøy.

The new group was named after Solstad Farstad and Sverre Farstad entered the board and owner's side.

But in early 2018, Farstad withdrew from the board of the merged company after only attending a board meeting. Farstad also removed the family name from the new shipping company.

Retrieving former colleagues

Now the experienced offshore manager will look ahead and start with a supply vessel (PSV) from Ulstein. The boat is named "Farland", the same name as the original Farstad shipping company's first boat, delivered in 1959. Soon the new boat will be ready for the spot market in the North Sea.

– Looks like the timing is good. It looks better on the Norwegian shelf than it's been a long time. Many companies still struggle with debt. Now we have the opportunity to restart without the heavy backpack, says Aure.

In the summer, the five will be in management, all with Farstad Shipping experience. Recruitment of crew to the boat is also underway.

"We had many good sailors, and many of them asked me several times whether or not I should start over, and that we would join together if we wished to bet. It has also been an important driving force, says Farstad.

The new boat is ready in Ulsteinvik. From left Sverre Olav Farstad, who will also work in the new company, Svein Leon Aure, Sverre Farstad and Roy Ove Standal, operations manager. Advertisement ad feedback

Will grow

"Farland" (formerly "Blue King") has already been funded by a local bank that Sverre Farstad & Co AS is now in service.

"The agreement that was already there enabled us to operate and operate the boat. We probably do not get a loan from the bank if we go there to buy a boat, says Aure.

Currently, the first boat for the shipping company is blue, but it is not impossible for it to get Farstad's famous red color over time.

– What do you think of debt securities – will you use this market again?

We do not have very good experience with this. It takes a lot to do this again, but you should never say it. What we hope is to bring even more local capital. We need that, Farstad says.

The company's ambitions are to grow, but not necessarily own all boats. They also analyze management and hull as possible solutions for the new shipping company.

– In the long run, we will try to use the network we have in the world. We were big in Australia and we see interesting opportunities in Brazil, says Farstad.

– Reminder to be careful

Today, Farstad raises the new flag at the company's offices in Ålesund and, while expecting optimism, it has the lows of memory. He points out that in a cyclical industry like the oil industry, you need to be more careful investing in the good times, at least in speculation.

Of course you do not have to plow everything and grow to grow. There we will be cautious. We build many boats – this applies to the whole industry, says Farstad.

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