Silja Line, the world's number one travel retail/duty free ferry operation with annual sales of around $250m to $300m has been put up for sale by its owners, Sea Containers.
Speculation has been rife for weeks that Sea Containers might sell its Helsinki-based Baltic ferry subsidiary and this was all brought to an abrupt halt with a recent short statement by the company: ‘The company has decided to entertain offers to buy the business. It is not possible to predict the sale price for Silja.’
Sea Containers, which acquired a majority shareholding in Silja in 1999 has seen profits from the operation fall significantly this year with higher fuel costs, reduced profits from duty free sales and over capacity in the Swedish market. Sea Containers said Silja's 2005 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were expected to fall to $39m from $70m in 2004, excluding restructuring charges. The business reported an operating loss of $20.4m between January and June 2005.