Avondale Industries Joins International Shipbuilding Partnership

New Orleans, La.-based diversified shipbuilder Avondale Industries Inc. reported that it will form a pioneering joint venture with a German shipbroker and a Norwegian shipping group.

Avondale vice president of commercial ship marketing Ron McAlear said, "It brings together three key segments of the industry. We don't know of any other joint venture of its type." Avgain Marine A/S, to be based in Oslo, Norway, will be an international broker of ship components, aiming to supply parts to its parents and to other shipyards worldwide. Avgain will be equally owned by Avondale, broker Peter Gast Shipping GmbH, Hamburg, Germany, and Wilh. Wilhelmsen Ltd., also of Oslo.

In an industry marked for years by strong international competition, the project is described as a unique example of corporate cooperation in shipbuilding.

The project will allow Avondale to increase access to foreign suppliers of parts, pool its purchasing power and boost competitiveness in constructing commercial vessels. Mr. McAlear said that Avondale hopes to cut expenses by purchasing parts through the joint venture. "A large component of our costs is materials," he noted.

Mr. McAlear also said sealift contracts have not been discussed in the joint venture, "but it would be a natural—we'd be pleased to discuss it." U.S.-built ships have recently become more attractive on the international market, a spokesman said, adding that Avondale's ship prices are now more competitive.

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