K-Sea Transportation Sued by Investor Over $335 Million Kirby Takeover

K-Sea Transportation Partners LP (KSP), a tanker and tugboat operator, was sued by an investor seeking more money in a proposed $335 million takeover by barge-fleet operator Kirby Corp. (KEX)

K-Sea, based in East Brunswick, New Jersey, announced March 13 that it would be bought by Houston-based Kirby for $8.15 a share or $4.075 in cash plus 0.0734 of a Kirby share, which is about $4.09 today. The all-cash offer was 26 percent more per K- Sea share than the previous day’s closing price.

“The value of partnership units is far greater than the consideration offered,” particularly in light of growth prospects, William Caldwell, the investor, said in a complaint filed yesterday in Delaware Chancery Court.

K-Sea reported an $87.3 million net loss on $265.4 million in fiscal 2010 revenue. Kirby reported net income of $116.2 million on revenue of $1.11 billion last year.

Terrence Gill, K-Sea’s chief financial officer, didn’t immediately return voice-mail and e-mail messages seeking comment on the lawsuit.

K-Sea operated 69 tank barges and 66 tugs as of late 2009 serving oil companies and refiners, according to the complaint. Kirby serves oil companies, fishing fleets and the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard.

K-Sea fell 1 cent to $8.09 at 4:01 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Kirby fell 56 cents, or 1 percent, to $55.69.

The case is Caldwell v. K-Sea, CA6301, Delaware Chancery Court (Wilmington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Phil Milford in Wilmington, Delaware, at pmilford@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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