MSC Monitoring Rickmers Crisis

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Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) said it is ready to “act quickly” if a creditor of Rickmers Group takes action against any of the three vessels it has chartered from the bankrupt German ship owner and manager.

The Swiss-based carrier said it is preparing contingency plans and will act as quickly as possible to minimize delays to customers’ cargo.

MSC has three Rickmers vessels under time charter — the 1,850-TEU John Rickmers, the 1,216-TEU Sandy Rickmers, and the 4,445-TEU MSC Florida. The latter two ships are scheduled for redelivery to Hamburg-based Rickmers in September.

“Where MSC has slot charter agreements with other shipping lines who are operating Rickmers-owned vessels and MSC has containers on board, MSC is ready to cooperate with those lines to minimise the delays to cargo if any action is taken against those vessels,” MSC said.

Rickmers filed for insolvency last week after its leading lender, HSH Nordbank, rejected its financial restructuring plan, but it stressed “business and shipping operations are continuing.”

The privately-owned company, which operates a 114 ship fleet, including 80 container vessels with a capacity of 425,000 TEU, is currently working on a new refinancing plan with its creditors.

Rickmers last week announced it has ceased trading in its 275 million euros ($308 million) five-year bond, which it is now seeking to delist.

The price of the high-yield bond had dropped below 3 euros from 100 euros in 2014.

Rickmers, which was founded in 1834, is said to have debts of almost 1.5 billion euros, the bulk of which is owed to HSH Nordbank and Unicredit.

The company’s loss soared to 341 million euros in 2016 from 135.5 million euros in the previous year, driven mainly by slumping charter rates and declining employment opportunities in the container shipping sector.

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Source: JOC

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