Tidewater Negotiating Acquisition Of Zapata In $500 Million Deal

In a deal worth up to $500 million and which would create the world's largest support vessel fleet, Tidewater is negotiating the acquisition of Zapata Gulf Marine. An agreement between the two U.S. groups would combine the 304 vessels of Zapata with the 303-vessel fleet of Tidewater. Tidewater's worldwide market share would more than double, analysts say, with a fleet of more than 600 vessels.

Currently, Tidewater has between 10 percent and 11 percent of the world's offshore boat market, while Zapata's market share is put at nearly 12 percent. Combined, an expanded Tidewater could control 23 percent of the world's workboat market, and within U.S. waters, Tidewater, which has about 25 percent of the market in the U.S. Gulf, would have even more strength. With Zapata's share of the Gulf, where 3,400 platforms and 132 drilling rigs are currently working, analysts say Tidewater's market share would soar to perhaps 40 percent. On the supply and towing-andsupply business end, Zapata is very active, with boats currently commanding $3,000 per day or more.

Zapata has about 200 such vessels in its 304-vessel fleet.

Officials say a merger of the two firms would create tremendous economies-of-scale, by combining management and administration. In a merger, Tidewater revenues would soar.

Tidewater, in its latest figures for the nine months ending December 31, 1990, had revenue of $180.4 million and net earnings of $24.7 million, up from $150.8 million and a loss of $6.7 million, respectively, in the previous year.

Privately owned Zapata reported revenue for the 1990 calendar year of $241 million and operating income of $22 million. Net income was not made public by the company.

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