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Bitter Pills to Swallow but Recovery Nearer in Sight

Over 12 months of negotiations and uncertainty, Rickmers Maritime has finally reached an agreement with its lending banks and sponsor, Rickmers Group. Who would have thought that the decision to acquire ships with long term charters from the major liners during the good days could exert such a severe impact on the trust’s performance? After all, during the boom investors focused largely on growth but this has led to the challenges that shipping trusts are facing today in the form of deflated asset values and lease rates. Rickmers Maritime has two pressing issues to resolve – a) a USD 130 million top-up facility that matured in April 2010 and b) an obligation to acquire 7 vessels from the sponsor with total contract value of USD 918.7 million.

In terms of loan restructurings, Rickmers Maritime’s lenders believed to be Citibank, DBS and HSH Nordbank have agreed to convert the balance amount of the USD 130 million facility into a five-year amortising loan and the value-to-loan covenants will be waived by all the lending banks for up to three years. In addition, the trust can take comfort that no market disruption clause will be invoked during the wavier period. But in exchange for the loan extension and temporary covenant waivers, the trust is required to prepay USD 59 million in FY 2010 and accept a revised interest rate of 1.75% per annum over three month LIBOR, which represents increases of between 55 bps and 105 bps on its existing borrowings. Unitholders will also have to live with the decision that the trust can only make quarterly distribution payments of up to 0.6 US cents per unit, provided no event of default has occurred under any facility.

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Written by: | Categories: Asia, Bank Debt, Restructuring, Shipping Trust | May 6th, 2010 |

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