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Reef Shipping bought by US company

Published: 8:39AM Friday December 28, 2012 Source: Fairfax

Auckland's Reef Shipping, which went into receivership last month, has been bought by a leading American carrier, Matson.

In a statement to the New York Stock Exchange, Matson said it had signed an agreement to acquire the primary assets formerly owned by Reef, including four vessels and about 1,500 pieces of container equipment.

Matson did not disclose the financial terms of the agreement which will be completed next week.

Last month PWC receiver Colin McCloy announced the receivership, saying he had been appointed to Reef Group and its "associated entities".

Reef Group's website says the company has interests across the South Pacific including eight cargo ships, a fleet of long-line fishing vessels, a business supplying bulk fuels to a dozen Pacific island nations, and the production and export of Niuean noni juice.

Reef Group is 89 per cent owned by Phillip McNicholl and Darrin Johannink, both of Auckland, alongside other private minority shareholders including former All Black Michael Jones.

The website says the business was formed in 1967 "from a small office on a South Auckland wharf" when it offered a shipping service between New Zealand and Fiji.

Reef's is servicing Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue, Tuvalu and Kiribati.

Matson CEO Matt Cox said with the latest acquisition the company was expanding its reach into the South Pacific and building on its expertise as a Pacific island carrier.

"While the purchase itself is relatively small, it complements our growing network of Pacific island services," he said.

"Historically, Matson vessels, including both freighters and luxury passenger ships, served the South Pacific for five decades, beginning in the 1920s.

After this acquisition, Matson will continue to provide service to Reef's historical core trade lanes from Auckland and Fiji to Nauru, the Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, Wallis and Futuna, Vanuatu, Tarawa and Majuro - all of which will be new markets for Matson.

In addition to Hawaii, which Matson has been serving since 1882, the company's Pacific island services include Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

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