Shipowner Rickmers shuts down business

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SINGAPOREAN ship owner and operator Rickmers Maritime shut down its business and sold off its entire fleet after a last-ditch debt restructuring deal was rejected by its major creditors.

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Rickmers missed a payment of $196.7 million to its lead creditors HSH Nordbank from Germany and Singapore’s DBS Bank on March 31, and was given until April 15 to present a restructuring plan. The company also missed that deadline.

The failure to present a plan in time “led to potential investors not supporting an injection of new equity into (the) trust due to challenges in obtaining consent for debt write-offs,” a statement from the company said.

Rickmers also missed a coupon payment to bondholders in November 2016. This, along with other breaches in loan agreements “has cast material uncertainties on the Trust’s ability to continue as a going concern,” the statement continued.

As a consequence, “In light of the aggravated illiquidity and lack of new investors, the Trustee-Manager opines that it is impracticable to continue the Trust and that it shall therefore be wound up.

“The winding up decision is made in light of no other possible alternatives to restructure the liabilities of the Trust with the objective of delivering value on an accelerated basis to all creditors to avoid uncertainties and risks involved in a protracted winding up process.

“The Trustee-Manager is in advanced discussions with a potential buyer for the Trust’s assets which may allow the Trust to distribute cash recoveries upfront to unsecured creditors,” the statement concluded.

Rickmers fleet sold

The company subsequently announced that Navios Maritime Partners, which owns and operates both dry bulk and container vessels, had agreed to purchase Rickmers’ entire fleet of containerships for about $113 million.

The fleet consists of 14 containerships, 11 with a capacity of 4,250 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) each, and three of 3,450-TEU capacity. The fleet has an average age of 9.5 years.

At the time of the sale, five of the larger vessels were employed on charters at an average rate of $26,850 per day, with expirations in 2018 and 2019.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Angeliki Frangou of Navios Partners, which is based in Greece, said in a statement, “We are pleased to announce the agreement for the acquisition of 14 container vessels from Rickmers Maritime. We anticipate acquiring five 4,250 TEU vessels on May 15.”

“Our operating platform was attractive to the Trust and its lending banks because of our disciplined technical and commercial management and favorable operating costs. This acquisition demonstrates our ability to source proprietary deals, and we are continuing to seek exposure to the container sector,” she added.

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