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Sitka carrier eyeing Wrangell on word of merger


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Samson Tug and Barge is considering a move to Wrangell if a merger between Northland Services, Inc. and Lynden, Inc. is approved.

A possible merger between two Southeast freight carriers has a Sitka-based firm looking to move to Wrangell.

Samson Tug and Barge a family-owned marine freight transportation company has released a statement saying they plan to “expand their current service in Southeast Alaska pending a planned purchase of Northland Services, Inc. by Lynden, Inc.”

Lynden has entered into a purchase agreement to buy Northland Services, a tug and barge carrier that provides service between Seattle, Alaska and Hawaii.

The expanded service by Samson has been announced in reaction to Lynden’s proposed purchase of Northland, a move that would leave only one carrier operating in most of Southeast Alaska. Samson currently provides scheduled marine cargo transportation service to and from Seattle, Sitka, Cordova, Valdez, Seward, Kodiak, King Cove and Dutch Harbor. The company says they plan to provide service to Ketchikan, Prince of Wales, Wrangell, Petersburg and Juneau once the Northland sale is completed.

“We are excited to offer service to Southeast Alaska. This is a great opportunity for Samson to expand our coverage throughout the State,” said Jerry Morgan, Samson’s Director of Marketing and Sales.

According to a press release by Northland, the merger will not affect service currently provided by either their company or Lynden

“Northland will be an independent operating company within the Lynden family of companies,” the press release states. ”The current Northland management team would stay in place. Lynden’s Alaska Marine Lines also provides tug and barge transportation services between Seattle and Southeast and Central Alaska.”

Lynden Chairman Jim Jansen said that he is aware of the fact that competitors – like Samson – might arise in reaction to the proposed merger.

“Where there is service overlap, we will organize to provide a higher level of service,” Jansen said. ”In certain communities where Alaska Marine Lines and Northland are the two primary freight carriers, other barge lines have plans to compete with us.”

A lengthy governmental process lies ahead before the purchase can be finalized and the proposed transaction is subject to regulatory review and other terms that, if completed, would likely result in a deal being struck later this year.

Samson’s port operations director Jim Scholz added that his firm would enter the Wrangell market if the sale goes through.

“Samson’s entry into the SE market is dependent on the purchase of Northland by Lynden,” Scholz said. “A long process stands in the way of completion of the sale, however Samson is preparing to step in and fill the gap for the communities of Southeast Alaska. We will be meeting with potential customers over the following weeks to determine their needs and to prepare for a smooth transition.”

Samson, originally known as Baggen Transfer, started as a horse and cart operation in Juneau, Alaska in the early 1900s. The company began providing marine transportation in 1937.


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