SAAM Towage has made a significant addition to its already large fleet of tugboats.

The Chilean towage service has acquired 17 tugs from Brazilian owner Starnav for $150m.

The deal, which marks SAAM Towage’s largest purchase to date, also includes buying four tugs under construction for $48m.

The agreement, which needs approval from Brazil authorities, will take SAAM Towage’s entire fleet to 201 tugs.

SAAM Towage was founded in 2019 as a subsidiary of SAAM, which has offered logistics and port terminal services since 1961. It acquired 70% of Intertug in 2021.

“This agreement, one of the largest transactions in SAAM’s history, enables us to continue growing in this market and broaden our service offering in order to reinforce our position as the towage industry’s leading operator in the Americas and one of the largest in the world,” chief executive Macario Valdes said in a statement.

SAAM Towage Brazil will take over the debt for the 21 tugs and deduct it from the price paid to Starnav.

The deal is the latest expansion for parent SAAM Towage since its late April acquisition of towage businesses run by Ian Taylor in Peru, and Standard Towing and Davies Tugboats in Canada.

SAAM Towage provides services at more than 80 ports in 14 countries in the Americas, completing 110,000 manoeuvres each year for 37,000 vessels.

In March, the company reported net income of $78.6m for 2021, up 18% from last year’s profit.

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