Viking Line bids for Silja Line

Viking Line has made a bid for its competitor Silja Line, according to the Reuters news agency. Silja Line's owner, Sea Containers, recently made it clear that the company was for sale.

The deadline for interested buyers expired on Wednesday. In November of last year Sea Containers announced their decision to sell the loss-making ferry line, and Silja Line managing director Antti Pankakoski said that he was expecting at least ten bids.

Any deal should be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2006, according to the company’s plans.

Estonia’s Tallink as well as Rederi AB Gotland have been listed among the potential speculators. Tallink previously confirmed that it was considering making a bid.

Before the sale, Silja Line is implementing a savings programme focused on the profitable routes from Stockholm, Helsingfors, Åbo and Tallin. The goal is to cut annual costs by 200 million kronor by the end of next year.

Originally, 500 people were to be given their notice as part of the cost cutting process. But according to Kenny Hallberg, the head of Scandinavian operations at Silja Line, the total is now likely to be fewer.