Mon, Jul 27, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Wisdom Marine to file IPO application during third quarter

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wisdom Marine Lines Co (慧洋海運), which owns and operates a fleet of 50 vessels, said it would file an initial public offering application in the third quarter on the local bourse.

The Cayman Islands-registered shipping company has since November asked Masterlink Securities Corp (元富證券) to underwrite its listing plan and expects to complete the application process early next year, company spokesman Bruce Hsueh (薛亦駿) said by telephone.

Despite the global downturn, the bulk carrier recently signed a letter of intent with state-run CSBC Corp, Taiwan (CSBC, 台灣國際造船) to build two Panamax 930,000-tonne cargo ships to expand its fleet.

Hsueh attributed the move to the company’s somewhat more positive outlook, while other firms have adopted a conservative strategy before a concrete recovery.

“We opted to expand because the opportunity presented itself,” Hsueh said.

“For one thing, shipbuilding costs are much lower and many Japanese vessel owners are seeking partnerships with us,” he said.

Shipbuilding costs reportedly shrank 30 percent during the economic downturn, though Hsueh declined to reveal exact figures.

On July 17, Wisdom chairman James Lan (藍俊昇) told reporters on the sidelines of a CSBC event that his company would likely add two bulkers if the state-run shipbuilder were able to meet the order.

The company hopes to expand the fleet to 70 vessels in two or three years, Lan said.

The shipping company, founded in 1999, posted revenues of NT$3.53 billion (US$1.7 million) last year, up 22 percent from a year earlier.

After-tax profits stood at NT$1.48 billion last year, or NT$7.42 in earnings per share (EPS).

Lan said EPS had reached NT$5 for the first six months and was expected to rise to NT$8 at the end of the year, helping double the company’s market capitalization to NT$4.4 billion.

Wisdom emerged from the global financial crisis unscathed in the first quarter because long-term charter contracts, which account for 75 percent of the company’s operations, were unaffected, Hsueh said.

The company’s bulkers also performed satisfactorily, he said, adding that Wisdom intends to increase the proportion of its self-run business.

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