A company whose basic business is rig repair has purchased the core assets of Bender Shipbuilding & Repair Co. Inc., of Mobile, Ala. Signal International LLC, also of Mobile, paid $31.25 million for Benderâ€™s six shipyards located on the Mobile River. Not included were a plate line and a shipyard in Mexico that will be sold later.
Bender Shipbuilding had been located in downtown Mobile for nearly a century and was a major force in new construction and repair of commercial and military vessels. At the time of the bankruptcy filing in July 2009, Benderâ€™s assets were $98.2 million and liabilities were $110.7 million. Bender filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to prevent three major creditors from a forced liquidation of the company.
The purchase was finalized in January 2010. The 26-acre facility will be called Signal Ship Repair. â€œWe hope to triple employment to 400 to 500 people in 18 months,â€ said Dick Marler, president and CEO of Signal. The company has 500 workers in Pascagoula, Miss., and 150 people at a Texas facility.
â€œWe are going to quickly restore capability by investing $5 million in dock repairs and dredging,â€ Marler added.
Signal hired about 125 people from Bender, and about 10 people were let go from the administration side of the business, mainly due to duplication of jobs. â€œWe are relying a lot on the people that were on the Bender payroll,â€ Marler added. Former Bender President Tom Bender is not with Signal and was not available for comment on the transaction.