KKR and Borealis Maritime say they have acquired a portfolio of nine feeder container vessels in a sale process coordinated by Commerzbank. The vessels were previously owned by a number of German KG funds and were originally financed by Commerzbank. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.
In 2013, KKR and Borealis Maritime formed a joint venture named Embarcadero Maritime to invest in distressed shipping assets. Since its formation and including the most recent acquisition, Embarcadero Maritime has acquired 27 vessels in 9 separate transactions and its current fleet includes a mix of chemical tankers, feeder container vessels and small LPG vessels. To date, KKR and Borealis have deployed over $100 million into vessel acquisitions and continue to pursue additional transactions opportunistically.
Christoph Toepfer, CEO of Borealis Maritime, stated: "Our partnership with KKR has been well timed to deploy capital during what we believe will prove to be a low cycle in the shipping industry. We have been able to grow our fleet significantly and together with KKR are offering lenders feasible solutions to prior lending engagements."
Many sectors of the shipping industry continue to suffer from overcapacity and low vessel earnings, including the container segment. Absent a short-lived recovery in 2010, charter rates for feeder container vessels are in their sixth year of barely covering operating costs, with limited ability to pay interest or amortize debt. Coupled with large declines in prices for second-hand container vessels over this period, many original asset owners are under significant pressure today.
"We are pleased to acquire these nine vessels with Borealis," said Brian Dillard, a member of KKR's Special Situations team. Dillard continued, "We are actively looking for attractive investments in shipping, particularly where we can provide a solution for lenders looking to reduce their exposure
KKR is funding the acquisition through certain of its managed funds and accounts and its special situations fund, which, among other things, offers long-term capital to support the long-dated nature of shipping assets.
(KKR is a leading global investment firm that manages investments across multiple asset classes including private equity, energy, infrastructure, real estate, credit and hedge funds.
Borealis Maritime is a privately owned and independent London maritime shipping company founded in 2010. It provides a comprehensive range of integrated services associated with the management of maritime assets, both for private and institutional investors).