Sea Star parent buys Tropical


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ST. THOMAS - AGL Resources is selling Tropical Shipping to Seattle-based shipping company Saltchuk Resources, but the sale is not expected to affect local operations.

"There's no plans to change the service schedules or the structure of the company," Saltchuk spokeswoman Emily Reiter said. "It really should be business as usual."

The sale is expected to go through in the next 90 days.

Reiter said Tropical will continue to be operated by the current management team.

For 15 years, Saltchuk has been serving Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands through Sea Star Line, its U.S. flag operation. Tropical's foreign flag fleet provides service to the balance of the region, according to Saltchuk.

"There's no plans to change service routes for either company, they'll continue to operate as sister companies," Reiter said.

Andrew Evans, executive vice president and chief financial officer for AGL Resources, said the energy company has worked to boost profits for Tropical in the last two years as it sought a more "strategic owner" for the shipping company.

"We are confident that becoming a member of the Saltchuk family, with their deep roots in the transportation, logistics and maritime industries, will guarantee a continued bright future for Tropical Shipping and its employees and valued customers," he said.

Reiter said the sale is a win for both companies.

Tropical and its related companies will become Saltchuk's sixth line of business. Tropical will continue to operate as a standalone operation.

With the addition of Tropical, Saltchuk will employ 7,500 people nationwide. The company recently was named one of the World's Most Ethical Companies in 2014 by the Ethisphere Institute.

"Most importantly, Tropical shares our values. The company has a strong safety culture, has the best on-time service in its region, and is committed to giving back to the communities which it serves," Saltchuk Chairman Mark Tabbutt and President Tim Engle said in an announcement to employees. "All of the traits that make our other companies so strong can be found also at Tropical."

After-tax proceeds from the sale are expected to be approximately $220 million.

Tropical Shipping is a transporter of dry and refrigerated cargo containers and provides scheduled logistics services to and from the U.S. and Canada to 25 ports in the Bahamas and Caribbean, including scheduled interisland services between Caribbean ports, according to AGL Resources.

Saltchuk is one of the nation's leading freight transportation and distribution companies. Founded in 1982, Saltchuk is based in Seattle and is a second-generation family business.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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