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Rickmers Maritime seeks restructuring as debt woes mount

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A Singapore-based shipping trust that operates container ships is asking creditors for leniency on about US$253 million of debt, in the latest sign of debt woes in the industry and in the country.

[SINGAPORE] A Singapore-based shipping trust that operates container ships is asking creditors for leniency on about US$253 million of debt, in the latest sign of debt woes in the industry and in the country.

Rickmers Maritime won't be able to repay US$179.7 million of bonds due in March 2017 and the interest and principal on S$100 million of notes due in May 2017, it said in an investor presentation filed to the Singapore Exchange Thursday.

It's asking investors to exchange their debt with S$28 million of new perpetual bonds to avoid potential liquidation or judicial management that it says would be "likely to result in zero recovery for noteholders".

Rickmers adds to a list of troubled borrowers in the global shipping industry, which is grappling with slowing economic growth and a mountain of debt.

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The woes have claimed South Korea's biggest container line Hanjin Shipping Co, which got US bankruptcy protection last week, along with Swiber Holdings Ltd and AusGroup Ltd.

Rickmers' stumble also increases signs of stress among Singapore borrowers, after Marco Polo Marine Ltd said this week it plans to ask bondholders for approval to delay paying debt.

Adverse market conditions have affected charter rates, hurt Rickmers' financial performance and reduced its ability to service its debt obligations, according to the investor presentation.

The trust has received a firm offer from the senior lenders led by HSH Nordbank AG and DBS Group Holdings Ltd to refinance up to US$260.2 million of loans, according to a filing earlier this month.

It appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers and Morgan Lewis Stamford as advisers last month.

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