Latvian Shipping Builds Fence Around Office as It Blocks Shareholders Meet

AS Latvian Shipping Co., Latvia’s biggest shipping company, erected a temporary fence around its Riga offices today as it canceled a shareholders’ meeting called by its largest investor.

The fence was built and barbed wire installed to protect workers after news reports that opposing groups attacked each other at Ventbunkers, a related company, said Edvins Berzins, a Latvian Shipping board member. The confrontation at Ventbunkers took place in June, according to the Leta news service.

“Our security service informed us that these types of provocations were possible, including the presence of physical force,” Berzins said at a news conference. “Taking into account the advice from the security experts we carried out this action.”

A/S Ventspils Nafta, a Latvian port and terminal operator whose largest shareholder is Geneva-based Vitol Group, owns 49.9 percent of the shipping company. Ventspils Chief Executive Officer Simon Boddy said the company called the shareholders’ meeting to discuss a low-cost 12-person supervisory council for Latvian Shipping. The meeting was canceled by Latvian Shipping.

Vitol, the world’s largest independent oil trader, owns 49.5 percent of Ventspils Nafta.

“We as VN and as Vitol are extremely disappointed that this meeting has not taken place,” Ventspils Chief Executive Officer Simon Boddy said at a separate news conference outside the Latvian Shipping offices in Riga. “Please look behind me. Here is a wonderful example of what Latvian shipping management does. What have they have to hide?”

Board Costs

Latvian Shipping’s current supervisory board has cost 5 million lati ($9.8 million) over the past 3 years, according to Boddy. Berzins declined to confirm the figure, saying board member salaries are confidential.

Ventspils is the second-biggest company on the 34-member OMX Riga stock index, with a weighting of 20.2 percent, behind Latvijas Gaze AS at 25.9 percent. Latvian Shipping is third at 16.8 percent.

Ventspils, based in the Latvian city of the same name, has gained 77 percent this year in Riga trading. It rose 3.8 percent to 1.66 lats yesterday, the last day trades were recorded, giving it a market value of 173.4 million lati. Riga-based Latvian Shipping fell 2.4 percent to 0.4 lats today, valuing it at 80 million lats.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aaron Eglitis in Riga at aeglitis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor for this story: Willy Morris at wmorris@bloomberg.net

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