If it comes off, the deal will cap a series of moves, to be announced this week, that will expand the group's activities in Ecuador, Madagascar and South-east Asia.
The group, headed by Norwegian-born Andreas Ugland, 38, is to beef up its Ugland Pacific Services operation in tandem with Salen, the Swedish shipping company, and plans to buy four more cargo and container ships to trade between Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore.
It is also finalising discussions with the Madagascar government on a joint venture to reactivate the country's shipping line. And it is committing five ships to carrying bananas from Ecuador to Hamburg.
"South-east Asia is competitive, but I think there is room for companies like us, who are used to higher standards than some of the local operators," Mr Ugland said.
Kleinwort Benson Securities, the company's broker, forecasts Ugland will make a profit of £2.4m in its present form, compared with a £187,000 loss for the year to March 1994.