Trade Winds, 05-March-2004

Interorient Navigation keeps seven Keppel feeders

Cyprus-based shipmanager Interorient Navigation will keep seven of the 10 Steamers Maritime feederships it has bought from Keppel Group and sell three on to German owner Carsten Rehder.

Singapore's Keppel said this week it has sold the entire Steamers fleet of 10 ships to Interorient for $90.9m in order to concentrate on core activities.

Interorient will use the seven ships it keeps in its own Mediterranean-based United Feeder Services (UFS) operation. They range in size from 369 teu to 1,012 teu.

But three of the ships will be sold on to Hamburg-based owner Carsten Rehder the 369-teu Steamers Future (built 1997), the 754-teu Steamers Prospect and Steamers Prudence (both built 1998).

Interorient managing director Jan Lissow says the Steamers ships have been earmarked to replace chartered vessels used by UFS. The feeder line operates up to 50 vessels, most of which are chartered in.

"We want to replace some of the older vessels and improve our ratio of owned to chartered ships," Lissow said. Two of the ships are already chartered to UFS as is the Steamers Prudence, which will be owned by Carsten Rehder.

Lissow says Interorient has kept an eye on the fleet for some time and must have beaten off competition for the vessels.

Keppel finance director Teo Soon Hoe says the sale ended the group's shipowning presence and was made at the right time to benefit from rising prices. He says Keppel chose to sell "at the right price, and, in the process, extract maximum value for our shareholders".

The Singapore company says net book value of the 10 vessels on 29 February was SGD 105.8m ($62.1m), giving the group a total net gain of SGD 35.7m.

Carsten Rehder has a long-standing relationship with Interorient, having used the Cyprus group as its crewing agent since the early 1980s.

The two companies have also jointly ordered three 1,100-teu feederships at the Romanian yard of Aker Tulcea. The Hamburg owner will take delivery of one of the trio of ships in 2005.

Carsten Rehder has also just fixed its 1,100-teu vessel Dolphin Strait (built 2003) at a strong $11,500 per day for 12 months to TS Lines as the market for smaller boxships continue to improve. The ship was earning just $7,600 per day on its last charter, which was fixed in mid-2002.

UFS provides 17 weekly services, with a total of 29 different rotations, calling at 42 ports in the Mediterranean.