China Shipping Container Lines

Lawsuits filed in US against HNA firms

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 January, 2012, 12:00am

HNA, the maritime, aviation and property group, and several of its shipping offshoots are facing a fresh round of legal disputes in the US from rival companies over its vessels.

The wrangles come as at least one Hong Kong broking house said it stopped referring ship owners to Jinhai Heavy Industry, the shipbuilder owned by HNA, after the shipyard halted paying broker commissions on new orders. Shipbrokers receive 1 per cent of the contract price in commission, but Jinhai Heavy Industry allegedly failed to pay it on a recent supertanker deal - a 320,000 deadweight tonne (dwt) very large crude carrier, costing US$100 million.

Danish shipping firm Norden confirmed it was taking action against Grand China Shipping Hong Kong. It is named together with four other co-defendants including HNA Group, China Logistics Holdings and Grand China Shipping Yantai, in documents filed on Friday in California's Central District Court in Los Angeles. HNA is part of the action because it is the corporate guarantor.

Norden spokesman Hans Boving said: 'We can confirm that the law firm Chalos & Co, on behalf of Norden has submitted a claim against Grand China Shipping and affiliated companies within the HNA Group at a district court in California. The case relates to a dispute on one specific agreement. As the case is pending, it would not be right for us to provide additional comments.'

The row is thought to relate to Grand China Shipping's failure to make hire payments on one of the 180 dry cargo ships operated by Norden.

Tumac also filed in the same court on Friday against Grand China Shipping Hong Kong and the same four defendants. Tumac, which controls the large 178,000 dwt dry cargo ship Monemvasia, is one of the shipping companies linked to Greek shipowner Minerva Marine, which took Grand China Logistics to arbitration in London last year. Minerva Marine alleged Grand China Logistics owed about US$2 million in unpaid charter payments on the Monemvasia.

Nobody at Minerva Marine was available to comment.

HNA, which controls Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express, together with four other shipping subsidiaries are facing action by Greek owner Iron Pasha in the same Los Angeles court over unpaid charter hire. The defendants include Grand China Shipping Hong Kong and Shanghai Grand China Shipping Development, according to court documents filed on Friday. The latest action was launched by Iron Pasha after Shanghai Grand China Shipping paid half of the charter hire arrears it owed the shipping company in November.

Legal and shipping sources said the Central District Court was chosen because Grand China has 'significant activities' in the Los Angeles area. HNA has not responded to e-mailed questions.