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Published: 10 February 2017      

Rickmers-Linie to Zeaborn

The Zeaborn Group has acquired the business operations of struggling Rickmers-Linie.

The takeover includes the Rickmers-Linie business with all locations, employees, management and the charter fleet as well as its subsidiaries, which include NPC Projects and the business operations of MCC Marine Consulting & Contracting.

Rickmers-Linie had only just acquired tramp and chartering specialist NPC (Nordana Project & Chartering) in June 2016, and was operating it as independent division. MCC Marine Consulting & Contracting is a charter and bunker broker established in 1982, out of which Rickmers Linie grew. 

Jan Hendrik Többe, Managing Partner of Zeaborn, said the opportunity to add Ricmers-Linie came at the right time for Zeaborn. "With the growth of our fleet, we were faced with the challenge of building a global organization. Everyone who knows the shipping industry knows that this is a very challenging task in our time. In this respect, it’s a fortune for our development that Rickmers-Linie was available at the right time". 

The deal will create a global team of close to 200 employees and a combined fleet of about 50 multi-purpose vessels, with deadweight capacities (dwat) between 7,500 and 30,000 tonnes, and a combined lifting capacity of up to 700 tonnes.

"Just like us, Rickmers-Linie and NPC Projects are concentrating on the transport of break bulk, heavy lifts and project cargoes. They have an excellent reputation, have close, long-term customer relationships and stand for reliability, quality, innovation and technical competence. With its line-up services and the tramp business of NPC, Rickmers-Linie connects the most important business centres in the world. In this unique combination, we are now able to offer our customers even more tailor-made transport solutions, "added Ove Meyer, also a Managing Partner of Zeaborn. 

Speaking for Rickmers-Linie, CEO Ulrich Ulrichs said: “Rickmers-Linie gets new powerful shareholders who want to expand their activities in the MPP segment. With Zeaborn, we have the right partners to play an active part in the consolidation of the heavy and MPP sector in a currently difficult market situation, and to offer our customers excellent service, safety and reliability on an economically stable basis”.

The sale of Rickmers Linie does not solve the financial problems of the Rickmers Group, which has three divisions: Maritime assets, Maritime Services and Rickmers-Linie, though it does create some breathing room for the struggling Group. 

Despite a temporary breakeven in Q1 2015, Rickmers Linie’s losses since 2011 ran to €75M and no end was in sight. Rickmers Group said with freight rates in the market too low to cover costs, it was unable to make necessary investments in fleet renewal to drive growth. “From Rickmers-Linie’s perspective, therefore, a move towards consolidation in the breakbulk, heavylift and project-cargo business was and is unavoidable”.

The sale price is confidential, but funds will “contribute to a stabilisation of the operating (EBITDA) earnings and cash-flow development of the Rickmers Group”, and in the medium term support debt restructuring. “However, in the short term the single-digit million-euro compensation the Rickmers Group is to pay under the terms of the sale will burden its liquidity position,” the Group warned. 

The sale does not appear to improve the position of Rickmers’ bond holders in Singapore, who are refusing to swap $100M in bonds for much lower valued shares. Rickmers Group stated: “Under the terms of the Rickmers Bond listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange Prime Standard, the sale of the Rickmers-Linie business segment does not represent an ‘Event of Default’ that would trigger bondholders’ Right of Termination.

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