Safmarine, Golden Ocean Avoid Court Fight

Friday, September 03, 1999
South African Marine Corp Ltd. (Safmarine) said that a court bid by another firm seeking its liquidation had been withdrawn and that the company would continue with business as usual. The court application was lodged by Liberian-registered charter firm Golden Ocean to the Cape High Court in June, arguing that Safmarine had stripped itself of income-earning assets in a wider group restructuring. Golden Ocean claimed the restructuring move by Safmarine - a ship owner and operator - would make it impossible for the group to meet its current charter obligations. "Golden Ocean has withdrawn the application because they believe that the balance sheet of Safmarine is now strong enough," Jan Rabie, Safmarine executive director said. "Safmarine still has the Golden Ocean charter parties and we'll continue to honor them." He said Safmarine had restructured its balance sheet in the last few months, making it possible for Capital Finance SA of Greece to carry over a $41 million recapitalization package when it acquires Safmarine. But the terms of the acquisition are still being finalized with Safamarine's parent company, South African Marine and Rennies Holdings Ltd. (Safren), Rabie said. Capital Finance SA is controlled by Stamatios Restis, a leading figure in a prominent Greek shipping family. "Safmarine was in our view financially sound at the time of the initial court application and remains a strongly capitalized company," Safren Chairman Buddy Hawton said. Since last year Safren has been busy unbundling after its majority shareholder - life assurer Old Mutual - decided to divest of non-core assets and demutualize to list on the Johannesburg and London bourses. In February, Denmark's AP Moeller bought Safren's Safmarine Container Lines for $240 million - the largest operator of European-African Trade routes with a fleet of more than 50 owned and chartered ships.

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