UK Greek shippers happy with Baltic Exchange sale

The crisis in global shipping and a tax exodus by big Greek vessel owners have helped finally seal the fate of London’s Baltic Exchange after at least three approaches to buy it over the last six years of its near-three centuries history.

Some 95 percent of shareholders voted this week in favor of a takeover deal from Singapore Exchange, valued at 87 million pounds ($112.87 million), trumping more than one effort from the London Metal Exchange to snap it up.

Founded in 1744 as a forum for chartering vessels, the Baltic Exchange now produces benchmark indices for global shipping rates and owns a trading platform for the multi-billion-dollar freight derivatives market.

It had repeatedly rebuffed overtures – defending its independence.

For Greek shipowners, who had been in London for decades and held around 20 percent of Baltic shares, Britain’s move to scrap special tax breaks for long-term residents who claim “non-domicile” status was another motivating factor helping the deal, sources said.

“It’s not the same as it was in the past and the non-dom issue has been a serious factor for the London Greeks – many of whom are moving out of London,” one source close to Greek shipowners told Reuters.

“The price offered was certainly part of the consideration but the British government’s legislation played a bigger role.”

When contacted, the representative Greek Shipping Co-Operation Committee declined to comment.

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