Signet Maritime Corp. has closed a deal for eight offshore towing vehicles from New Orleans-based shipping company Harvey Gulf International Marine.

Signet, headquartered in Houston, provides marine transportation services, including rig moves, towing, ship assist and escort, vessel design, new vessel construction, repair and maintenance. The deal allows the company to broaden its service to offer tractor and conventional vessels. After the deal, Signet's vessels now average 11 years of age. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The shipping industry has received interest from distressed investors, as the industry widely lacks capital to meet obligations and investors look for places to put their money. For more on investors looking for shipping deals, see "Why Wilbur Ross & Other PE Investors Are Trolling for Shipping Deals." 

Shipping company Rand Logistics Inc. (Nasdaq: RLOG) bought a chemical tanker in March that it plans to use for new contracts. In December, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (NYSE: KMP) agreed to buy two shipping companies, American Petroleum Tankers and State Class Tankers, for $962 million in cash. 

Financing for Signet Maritime's acquisition was provided by Wells Fargo Equipment Finance as part of a $209 million syndicated financing facility.

For the seller, the deal marks a move towards focusing on the offshore supply vessel services, multipurpose vessel services and offshore mooring businesses. Harvey Gulf is backed by private equity firm the Jordan Co., which bought it for $500 million in 2008.


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