Moscow still keen on privatising SCF


Going public remains very much on the cards but current market volatility makes timing a challenge, says finance boss Nikolay Kolesnikov.

SCF Group (Sovcomflot) is “fully ready” to see through an initial public offering (IPO) when the stars align for a long-awaited listing, its chief financial officer says.

Nikolay Kolesnikov told Trade-Winds on the sidelines of the Marine Money Forum in London that the company remains high on Moscow’s list of state-backed companies it wishes to privatise.

“In terms of shipping, we are definitely in the sweet spot and, in terms of the overall economic situation, there is too much volatility at the moment,” he said.

“What we can say is that we are one of the very few big tanker players who stayed current on all their obligations throughout the down cycle.

“Unlike some of the others, we never restructured or sought protection from creditors under Chapter 11; we never defaulted on any of our loans or bonds.

“So I think we have a reputation and a track record, and I’m sure we will get a following.”

The executive says the choice of which, if any, international stock exchange it selects is a technicality.

“I have had visitors from every stock exchange around the world but, as a Russian legal entity, the most natural place for us is to list on the Moscow Stock Exchange.

“Then, whether or not we need a secondary listing, we will take guidance from the bankers — but I would not put too much into this.

“In today’s world, you are talking about global institutions and if a sector appeals to them and the company’s business case appeals to them, they will always find a way to invest.”

SCF is present in many sectors but Kolesnikov suggests the company regards itself as “pure play in terms of the core clients”.

“We are very focused on energy shipping and we are more diversified in terms of our product offering,” he said. “But in terms of clients, it is definitely pure play.

“We are talking about international oil and gas companies and project operators. This is as good as it gets in terms of quality of clients in shipping overall. We have long-established relationships with the top 10 or 15 customers, who account for 75% or 80% of our business.

“That allows us not to speculate and not to invest speculatively.

“We have not placed an order for a conventional tanker for the past five years.

“In the meantime, we have added 22 high-spec vessels to the fleet. All of them, even the two VLCCs, are project vessels backed by our core clients.

“This gives us a very stable cushion of future revenues and cash flows.

“At the same time, it’s still a big enough tanker fleet, which allows us to ride the wave of the up-cycle as long as it continues.”