Container shipping is like being chased by a lion, says Rickmers boss

The chief of financially-troubled shipping trust “firmly believes’ Rickmers Maritime will be one of the container tonnage providers to survive the current market clean-out.

Speaking at Marine Money Asia on Tuesday, the CEO of Rickmers Maritime, Soeren Andersen, characterised the tonnage provider business for smaller containerships, such as its fleet of 16 panamax boxships, as very fragmented.

Noting that all sizes of containerships were under pressure he made a colourful analogy of the present situation.

“Container shipping is like being chased by a lion. You can’t run away from a lion, but you can run away from the other guy (also being chased by a lion),” he said.

He said that right now the thing the trust could do was “de-risk”.

“If you have to do some tough processes to do that, you have to do it,” he said.

Last week Rickmers Maritime held an informal meeting of bondholders where it proposed a 60% haircut in value terms, without which it said the company risked liquidation as it relates to a wider refinancing package.

This according to local reports met with resistance from bondholders.

It is by no means the only tonnage provider in the containership sector in difficultly and just this week German KG Fund Hansa Treuhand announced it was filing for bankruptcy.

Tonnage providers have been particularly hard hit when lines seek to reduce capacity, choosing to off-hire charter ships before laying-up or idling owned tonnage.

The idle containership fleet currently stands at over one million teu, according to Alphaliner.

Andersen said he was firmly convinced the tonnage provider business was solid, it just needed time for demand and supply to catch up.

“The question is how many companies will be left standing. I firmly believe we will be left standing,” Andersen stated.

Underscoring the dire state of the current market of the containership charter market Rickmers Maritime currently has three vessels laid-up as Andersen explained it “is cheaper than have a customer use them”.


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