Hansa Heavy Lift, Hamburg, a subsidiary company of US finance investor Oaktree Capital Management, has declared insolvency.
Rumours about HHL have been circulating for some time as its relatively large heavy lift vessels of the ’P’ class were difficult to place in the market. A few months ago, it was rumoured that the company would be taken over by rival heavy lift/breakbulk operator Zeamarine.
According to insider information, payments to suppliers, agents and partners were suspended late last week. The decisive factor was obviously the arrest last week of the HHL ELBE in Rouen because of unpaid bunker bills.
Hansa Heavy Lift was founded in 2011 as successor to Beluga Shipping Bremen and Oaktree became a shareholder after they managed to throw the founder of Beluga Niels Stolberg out of the company and took him to court.
The shipping crisis forced HHL to reduce its fleet by three vessels to eleven. Commerzbank is engaged in four and Nord LB in at least one ship. Efforts to restructure the fleet failed and the search for new investors proved fruitless.
The timing for Oaktree to leave HHL is not unusual after a period of seven to 10 years. Now it has pulled the plug, and it remains to be seen what will happen. In a statement Oaktree said it is committeed to seeing the insolvency process proceed: “Due to an extremely challenging operating environment in the global shipping industry, Hansa Heavy Lift filed for insolvency earlier today. Funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. (“Oaktree”) have been a committed investor in the company over the past seven years and have worked tirelessly with the Company’s management team to thoroughly evaluate all potential strategic avenues to ensure the viability of the business. However, given the ongoing structural challenges in the global heavy lift shipping sector, Oaktree is supportive of the Company’s decision to file for insolvency and has decided not to make any additional capital investments in the business.”