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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

OMZ Eyes Caspian With Purchase of U.S. Rig Firm

United Heavy Machineries, or OMZ, announced Friday it had bought U.S. offshore rig designer Friede Goldman, giving the company a substantial advantage as drilling in the Caspian Sea picks up speed.

OMZ bought the U.S. company, a subsidiary of Gulfport, Mississippi-based Friede Goldman Halter Inc., for $15 million Thursday. The acquisition became possible after a U.S. court found Friede Goldman Halter bankrupt and forced it to sell its subsidiaries.

"We are creating a new business building sea drilling platforms," OMZ president Kakha Bendukidze told a news conference.

The purchase makes OMZ the only Russian company with expertise in offshore rig construction, which will become increasingly important as drilling activity in the Caspian Sea increases.

Bendukidze said the acquisition would be funded from cash reserves. "Our aim is to increase our market share internationally as well as in Russia, but first and foremost in the Caspian," he told reporters. "We are in talks to make some other big acquisitions in the near future, not necessarily in Russia."

OMZ mostly produces equipment for nuclear power stations as well as mining and drilling equipment. Bendukidze said the company would recoup the investment in three years as Friede & Goldman Ltd. was a profitable company with a $9 million portfolio of orders. He said OMZ expected Friede & Goldman Ltd. to design platforms for the rigs. Other Uralmash subsidiaries, Korall design bureau, Krasnoye Sormovo and Nizhny Novgorod Shipbuilder will engineer and build them.

"We have done marketing research," Bendukidze said. (Reuters, AP)