Pacific Basin Shipping weathers storm

Dry-bulk shipowner says good relations with charterers make it stronger than rivals

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 April, 2013, 5:35am

Strong relations with charterers, particularly Japanese cargo owners, and a healthy balance sheet have helped dry-bulk shipowner Pacific Basin Shipping weather the downturn better than rivals, the chief executive said yesterday.

Mats Berglund said there had been "some Japanese casualties" among international shipping firms that have ceased trading or are being restructured since the shipping markets collapsed in late 2008.

He gave no names but they include Sanko Steamship which had about 50 Handysize and Handymax ships and was Japan's fourth largest shipping company early last year before if filed for bankruptcy protection pending a corporate restructuring.

He said Pacific Basin did "a lot of business" with Japanese interests, including charterers, and its strength as a counterparty allowed it to benefit from a chartering and buying perspective. The firm had cash and deposits totalling US$753.46 million at the end of last year.

Berglund said these links gave it "access to deals that don't show up on the open market". Pacific Basin has purchase options on 28 Handysize and Handymax ships it is chartering from other owners. A large proportion of Pacific Basin's dry cargo Handysize and Handymax vessels were built in Japan and carry Japanese cargoes, especially logs.

The firm finalised an US$85.2 million 12-year post-delivery financing package earlier this month with the Japan Bank for International Co-operation and the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ. The deal covers three Handysize ships and a Handymax bulk carrier that are due to be delivered by mid-2014.

Andrew Broomhead, chief financial officer, said: "This loan represents an opportunity for us to access export credit agency financing."

Berglund reiterated the firm was considering ordering new 37,000-38,000 deadweight tonne dry bulk ships in Japan with a larger cargo-carrying capacity than the Handysize fleet. The ships would also be more fuel-efficient, but Berglund said at 10 knots they would not save as much fuel as shipyards claimed when they sailed at 14 knots.

Asked how Pacific Basin would verify the fuel consumption claims, he said: "Our newbuilding guys will scrutinise shipyards' specifications and designs."