German shipowner Rickmers Group files for insolvency

Rickmers Group has filed for insolvency on Thursday, making it the most high profile casualty in Germany’s shipping sector, after its key lender HSH Nordbank rejected a restructuring plan a day earlier on Wednesday.

The German shipowner said it filed for insolvency in the morning of 1 June with the court confirming that it has received the application, according to a company statement cited by Reuters.

The absence of support from HSH Nordbank was deemed “highly surprisingly” by Rickmers, leaving insolvency as the only next step for the shipowner.

The insolvency of Rickmers marks the end of business for a five-generation German shipping family, with Bertram Rickmers currently owning 100% of the firm. The sole owner had sought to five up 75.1% of his ownership and allow HSH Nordbank to become a major shareholder under the proposed restructuring deal.

The banks with exposure to shipping, however, are themselves challenged with having to write-off huge amounts of loans to shipping companies, with HSH Nordbank having a total exposure of EUR17bn ($19bn) to shipping, of which EUR750m is in loans to Rickmers.

Shipping trust Rickmers Maritime, the Singapore-listed offshoot of Rickmers, has filed for liquidation in April after bondholders refused to approve its restructuring plans in late-2016.

A previous major casualty of the shipping sector was the bankruptcy of South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping in August 2016.

Posted 2 June 2017

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