Another Shipping Insolvency: Rickmers Maritime Trust - Global Trade Magazine
  October 3rd, 2016 | Written by

Another Shipping Insolvency: Rickmers Maritime Trust

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  • Buying time for toxic panamax ships will only prolong the suffering.
  • Rickmers Maritime Trust's fleet of containerships is unable to generate sufficient funds to pay debt obligations.
  • A number of privately-owned shipowning concerns have filed for bankruptcy due to the collapse in charter rates.

Hanjin isn’t the only player in the ocean shipping world that has become insolvent.

Rickmers Maritime Trust (RMT), a Singapore-listed owner of containerships has become the latest casualty in a growing list of containership owners with toxic vessel assets that are unable to generate sufficient funds to pay their outstanding debt obligations.

While a number of privately-owned shipowning concerns have filed for bankruptcy in the last three years due to the collapse in containership charter rates and asset values, RMT is the first publicly listed owner to admit that it is technically insolvent and that its assets are currently only worth their scrap values.

According to RMT, its fleet of 16 panamax containerships of 3,400 TEU to 5,000 TEU, with an average age of only nine years, would be worth a maximum of $140 million in a distressed sale, against a book value of $640 million. According to a recent report from Alphaliner, secured lenders will likely recover only 50 percent to 65 percent of the debt owed, while bondholders and shareholders will suffer total losses if the assets are liquidated.

In an attempt to buy time, RMT has proposed that its bondholders exchange $100 million of notes due in May 2017 to $28 million with no maturity date that are convertible to 20 percent of the shares of the company. If the bondholders don’t accept the proposal, according to the Alphaliner report, RMT says it will not be able to obtain the secured lenders’ agreement to refinance the rest of its outstanding senior debt of $281 million, $180 million of which is due in March of next year.

“The proposal will likely be resisted by the bondholders as it favors the equity owners, who will still retain 80 percent of the company shares,” Alphaliner concluded. Trying to buy additional time in the hope that the panamax containership market will enjoy an “improbable recovery,” the report suggested, is a lost cause.

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