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Containers: Greeks rolling up their sleeves

A couple of weeks ago, the Greek owner Diana Shipping’s NYSE-listed Diana Containerships announced that it entered into an agreement to liquefy up to seven of its containerships. The aggregate purchase price of all these assets could reach up to USD 104 Mn. Market rumours suggest that the buyers are linked to Greek owner Technomar Shipping’s subsidiary, Poseidon Container Holdings. The transaction is believed to concern vessels ranging from 5 k Teu to 6.5 k Teu and built between 2004 and 2009. The deal is still subject to the purchaser obtaining required financing. This means that the sale might end up referring to fewer than seven units, but any transaction is expected to be finalised during 2018 Q1, subject to extension under certain circumstances.

In the meantime, a compatriot of Diana, Navios Maritime Containers (NMC) confirmed the acquisition of two 4.25 k Teu Panamax ships built in 2009. The total price is USD 19.75 Mn. Delivery of the two vessels to NMC is expected early next month. NMC, listed in Norwegian OTC Market, already controls a fleet of 14 vessels ranging from 3.5 k Teu to 4.25 k Teu. These vessels were acquired from Singapore based Rickmers Maritime Trust (RMT) in April 2017, with the en-bloc price at USD 118 Mn. The transaction happened after RMT confirmed its failure to secure a restructuring agreement with its creditors which caused the company to be subsequently wound up. Navios Group, which owns 45 per cent of the NMC shares, currently has a fleet of 33 containerships from 1.7 to 8.2 k Teu. Together with the ships of NMC, the group has a total fleet capacity of 0.14 Mn Teu.

Another Greek owner, Costamare confirmed the sale of two of its oldest vessels for demolition. The New York-listed company sold the 4.8 k Teu “MANDRAKI” and the “MYKONOS” (both delivered in 1988) for scrap. Individual prices haven’t been disclosed, but Costamare commented that the sales led to an accounting gain of USD 1.5 Mn. This disposal has been mentioned in the shipowner’s most recent quarterly report. In parallel to that, a new loan and 15 new time charter contracts have been revealed. The majority of these new charters were for smaller assets used by ocean carriers for operational flexibility in non-major trade lanes. While rates for Panamax container ships have recovered significantly since last year, up to double the levels experienced in 2016, the peak season is already behind us and the idle capacity started picking up again. It currently stand at 0.55 Mn Teu. This will add more near-term seasonal pressure on charter rates. More than half of Costamare’s fleet is for recharter through 2018 which could mean lower EBITDA to be expected next year, as rates are still not expected to reach historically high levels any time soon.
Source: Fotios Katsoulas, Msc, Head of Research at Affinity (Shipping) LLP

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