Norwegian shipping investor Christen Sveaas is building his stake in Solstad Offshore as he tries to instigate legal action against its management and biggest shareholders.

Sveaas’ Kistefos and sister company Kistefos Investment added 500,000 shares each on Thursday, bringing the combined holding to 16.18%.

This makes Sveaas the second-biggest owner after Kjell Inge Rokke’s Aker Capital.

Kistefos has called for a general meeting to vote on proposals to launch legal action over alleged losses arising from the October refinancing in which a new parent company formed with Aker as the majority shareholder.

Beyond Aker, Kistefos and Solstad family-linked Jarsteinen with 10%, shareholdings are small.

Interactive Brokers has 5% and lenders SEB and DNB 4.9% and 4.5%, respectively. Shipowner Arne Blystad’s Songa Capital owns 1.3%.

The market cap is NOK 2.4bn ($221m).

Small shareholders will be key to any vote.

The move recalls a shareholder rebellion at rival DOF Group that scuppered a refinancing, forcing the company into bankruptcy and seeing bondholders and banks emerge this year in control of a new entity.

Kistefos, which owns Western Bulk and Viking Supply Ships, has said targets for legal action include all Solstad directors and chief executive Lars Peder Solstad; Rokke and his Aker Capital; and Aker-linked Oslo-listed company AMSC, which owns a construction vessel chartered by Solstad.

‘Unlawful distributions’

Solstad’s new holding company, Solstad NewCo, is also listed as a “potential” target.

Kistefos is proposing that Solstad Offshore bring a claim for repayment of “unlawful distributions”.

Sveaas also wants a substitute board elected to handle the legal action.

Solstad said on Thursday that Kistefos held only 5.16% of Solstad.

A date for the meeting has not yet been set. Solstad said its directors will publish their views on the matter later.

In the $875m refinancing, tycoon Rokke took a 57% stake in Solstad NewCo, which was set up due to the complexity of the transaction.

The deal also involved AMSC, formerly American Shipping Co, which owns the Solstad-chartered 178-loa offshore construction vessel Normand Maximus (built 2016), plus DNB and Export Finance Norway (Eksfin).

DNB and Eksfin will underwrite a new loan worth NOK 9.7bn ($875m) to refinance the fleet fully. This matures over three years with two one-year options and will replace NOK 11.9m of debt.

Solstad NewCo will be formed with a total of NOK 4bn in new equity.

Aker is pumping in at least NOK 2.25bn, and AMSC will contribute the Normand Maximus for NOK 1bn of shares.

Solstad Offshore will retain a 27% interest in Solstad NewCo.

The company sold its fleet of platform supply vessels to US owner Tidewater this year.

This was its third major reorganisation in six years, following a $2bn debt restructuring in 2020 and a 2017 deal in which John Fredriksen’s Deep Sea Supply and domestic owner Farstad Shipping merged into Solstad in a transaction that also involved Rokke.

Solstad had already taken over Rem Offshore following the slump in the OSV market.