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Great Offshore (GOL) has pipped another Mumbai-based shipping major, Mercator Lines, to acquire UK-based SeaDragon Offshore for $1.4 billion. This is the largest overseas acquisition by an Indian offshore company, after Chennai-based Aban Offshore bought Norwegian firm Sinvest for around $1.2 billion. SeaDragon owns two 6th generation semi-submersibles (drilling rigs), both currently under construction.

The UK-based offshore major had initiated an international bidding process from prospective buyers. The two Indian companies, GOL and Mercator, were running close in the race, said sources close to the deal. Sources said the unlisted UK company is held by a wide variety of investors. GOL will ac quire stake from almost every promoter and will have around 90% stake in SeaDragon. The rigs SeaDragon is building are the largest semi-submersibles in the world and have global deepwater and harsh environment capability. Its first vessel, the Oban B, is due for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2009 and will begin a long-term contract with PEMEX. The second vessel is due for delivery in September 2010 and is currently available for charter.

For GOL, the deal was managed by Motilal Oswal Investment Advisors. The transaction is subject to satisfactory completion of confirming due diligence, execution of definitive documents and undertakings and receipt of all necessary approvals required in India and overseas. Luthra & Luthra acted as the legal advisors to the transaction.

In November 2006, SeaDragon had reached an agreement with Tees Alliance Group to build the biggest drilling rig construction project to be undertaken in the UK for more than a generation. SeaDragon also has an option for another rig, with a combined value of $1.8 billion, if the third option is exercised.

GOL informed BSE that it made an offer for purchasing a controlling stake in the foreign company. "The said offer has been accepted by the board of the overseas company and subsequently by its own board," said GOL in the notice to the stock exchange. 

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