Western Bulk Chartering distances itself from insolvent Bulk Invest
Western Bulk Chartering (WBC) will not be drawn into the potentially messy liquidation process of Bulk Invest, its ceo told Splash today.
Oslo-listed Bulk Invest, formerly known as Western Bulk, filed a petition for bankruptcy last Thursday.
Jens Ismar, ceo of both the defunct Bulk Invest as well as WBC, said the latter was now a separate, stand alone, profitable company with 150-odd ships on its books.
“Seven ship owners represented by one trading house have filed an injunction to reverse the company’s sale of Western Bulk Chartering [WBC]. The same ship owners have also firmly rejected the restructuring efforts of the company,” Bulk Invest said last Thursday.
At the end of February some of the Bulk Invest’s main creditors requested a legal injunction, requiring a reversal of the sale of Bulk Invest’s chartering unit WBC to Kistefos. Six unnamed Japanese shipowners had also said the acquisition should be reversed because WBC was undervalued and its sale robbed Bulk Invest of much-needed liquidity.
Kistefos is a private investment firm led by Christen Sveaas, who is also chairman of Bulk Invest. The firm acquired WBC in early February for an enterprise value of $47m, comprised of $16m in cash and the acquisition of an unsecured bond worth NOK 271m ($31m).
Bulk Invest’s assets are now in the hands of liquidators, Ismar told Splash. The assets include 22 leased ships from Japanese owners, one ship on bareboat charter, three that are 20% owned by Bulk Invest and one that is 100% owned.
“Apart from the Japanese ships, we expect to be able to clear the rest of them in an amicable manner,” Ismar said.
Ismar said he anticipated WBC to remain profitable this year, as it has done every year since 2007.
“We made money last year and we expect to make money this year. Yes, it is very challenging, but we think we can extract some value and margin in this market,” the Norwegian national said.