Wisdom Marine Group (慧洋海運集團), one of the nation’s major bulk shippers, yesterday said it had signed a two-tranche syndicated loan agreement for US$5.92 million and ￥11.88 billion (US$119.43 million) with six domestic banks to finance its orders with three Japanese shipbuilders.
The syndicated loan was co-led by First Commercial Bank (第一商業銀行) and Bank of Taiwan (台灣銀行), with participating loans from Taiwan Cooperative Bank (合作金庫銀行), Hua Nan Commercial Bank (華南銀行), Bank SinoPac (永豐銀行) and Bank of Kaohsiung (高雄銀行).
Wisdom Marine and its subsidiaries have placed orders with three Japanese shipbuilders — Oshima Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Sasebo Heavy Industries Co Ltd and Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Co Ltd — to build six bulk vessels, with delivery set for sometime between this year and 2015.
“The vessels that are under construction are energy-efficient and have attracted many potential tenants,” Wisdom Marine chairman James Lan (藍俊昇) told reporters after the signing ceremony of the loan agreement.
Wisdom Marine has signed a 15-year rental contract for two of the six vessels with Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd — one of Japan’s major shippers — while another two ships are already chartered by European integrated commodities producer Glencore International PLC.
The Taiwanese shipper operates 86 ships, with the number expected to rise to 100 by the end of next year, Lan said.
Wisdom Marine aims to place more orders with major shipbuilders in Japan this year, because it sees the slowing market as proving a good opportunity for long-term investments, Lan said.
The company is also considering selling 10 bulk ships this year to upgrade its fleet, but may hold off on doing so if industry sentiment rebounds later this year, he added.
So far this year, the bulk shipper said it has not seen demand in the sector show a significant upturn.
The company said it would therefore try to maintain profitability by signing middle to long-term rental contracts with other major global shippers.
Wisdom Marine saw its pre-tax profits total NT$516.22 million (US$17.32 million), or earnings per share of NT$1.31, in the first three months of the year, a drop of 40.85 percent from a year earlier, the company said in a financial statement.