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ClassNK buys NAPA for €53m

Japanese classification society ClassNK has acquired Finnish software house NAPA for €53 million, both companies announced this morning.

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ClassNK and NAPA already have an ongoing collaboration agreement, having worked together on ClassNK-NAPA Green, a software solution designed to help ship operators reduce their fuel costs and emissions.

During the webcast announcement this Tuesday, ClassNK executive vice president Yasushi Nakamura explained that he believed only NAPA could provide the classification society with that type of fuel saving solution as well as a ship design solution (namely NAPA Steel) to add to its portfolio.

Juha Heikinheimo, president of NAPA Group, said that the sale to ClassNK would increase NAPA’s resources and help it develop further services on top of its existing portfolio.

The potential for a conflict of interest was raised with the confirmation that NAPA counts several other classification societies among its customers, though Mr Heikinheimo insisted that NAPA would “continue as an independent company”, promising “confidentiality and neutrality” in its dealings with external parties.

Both Mr Nakamura and Mr Heikinheimo said that the acquisition of 100 per cent of NAPA by ClassNK cost €53 million. As ClassNK is a not-for-profit organisation, the profits that NAPA will make in the future will be redirected towards developing new software, said Mr Heikinheimo.

In a press statement announcing the deal, NAPA and ClassNK said they both hope to see the acquisition “significantly enhance the success and capabilities of both organisations”, with ClassNK, which has worked with NAPA for nearly ten years, able to expand the range of services it offers to shipowners and shipyards, whilst NAPA will be able to expand its operations and access new markets.

“As a classification society that sees safety and performance as paramount, we want to ensure that innovation in software benefits the entire maritime industry – and make new innovations available to everyone,” said Mr Nakamura.

“Through this agreement we can ensure that NAPA’s ship design and operation solutions remain available to the entire maritime industry, while also providing NAPA with necessary tools and resources to further expand its innovative development work.”

Mr Heikinheimo added: “We see today’s announcement as a huge opportunity to continue to expand NAPA in a way that reflects the increasing demand for software design and operational solutions that we are seeing in the maritime market.”

“ClassNK’s role as a classification society will enable us to access its industry knowledge, scope and scale, as well as benefiting from its commitment to invest in software research and development. Going forward together [with ClassNK], NAPA will develop new solutions and services for the maritime industry, whilst maintaining its neutrality and confidentiality towards all stakeholders.”

“Today, reducing fuel costs and attracting charterers are the predominant concerns for shipowners and operators. Through this acquisition, the development of clean-tech solutions for optimising fuel costs, planning and monitoring will be accelerated. In addition, continuously improving software solutions to enhance the safety of both merchant and passenger vessels, both at the design phase and during operation, will remain a core focus for NAPA.”

ClassNK provides safety and certification services for more than 8,500 vessels representing more than 20 per cent of the world’s merchant fleet. NAPA’s software is utilised by shipyards designing over 90 per cent of the world’s newbuilds and by major ship owners.

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