Rickmers denies recent reports of vessel sale

The trustee-manager of Rickmers Maritime has denied news that one of its vessels, India Rickmers, has been sold. The clarification came after various articles cited a report by industry website VesselsValue that said the vessel had been sold and scrapped.

Rickmers Trust Management, the trustee-manager, said yesterday that it is in negotiations with one of the trust's senior lenders over a debt settlement agreement, as announced previously. It is considering selling the vessel as a possible option for the debt settlement. But it added: "The negotiations in relation to the potential debt settlement agreement are ongoing and no sale of the vessel has been concluded."

The trustee-manager said that it will update its note holders and unit holders if there are any material developments. The Straits Times understands that the trustee-manager has no plans to sell any other vessels for now.

The VesselsValue report valued the seven-year-old India Rickmers at US$5.87 million (S$8.38 million), just above scrap value. This takes into account a 62 per cent drop in value so far this year.

Rickmers has managed to secure bank lenders' support in restructuring its debt amid the industry downturn. But it is struggling to get note holders to agree to a swap of its $100 million outstanding notes due next May for $40 million worth of notes due in November 2023 and new units in the trust. It missed a $4.26 million interest payment to bond holders on Nov 15. Rickmers has a US$15 million loan from Commerzbank that is secured against India Rickmers.

A shipping lawyer told The Straits Times that as long as Rickmers has not filed for insolvency, its management retains control of the direction and transactions undertaken by the business trust.

But he added: "Management should be prudent and take into account the interest of creditors in their decision-making. However, I find it unlikely that the scrapping of India Rickmers will be a transaction that is subject to a clawback on the basis that the asset is likely to be a secured asset in favour of a specific bank creditor and that her valuation is close to scrap value."

Rickmers units last closed at 2.6 cents on Nov 15, after it requested a trading halt.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2016, with the headline 'Rickmers denies recent reports of vessel sale'. Print Edition | Subscribe