CMA CGM given deadline to make final payment.
CMA CGM has been given until next Tuesday to pay for a ship that Hanjin Heavy Industries is ready to deliver, or lose the vessel to another owner, industry sources revealed today.
The South Korean shipbuilder confirmed this week that it had cancelled the third in a series of four 6,500 teu boxships ordered by French carrier CMA CGM.
Confusion arose when the French line said yesterday that it was still in discussions with the shipyard about delivery of the newbuilding. That led to speculation that a brief stock exchange announcement by Hanjin Heavy about an order cancellation may have referred to another vessel, the 6,500 teu Fourth Queen, part of an order placed by Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.
But Hanjin Heavy said it was European owner CMA CGM, and pointed out that the original order was placed on August 23, 2006, more than a year after the IRISL vessels which were ordered on March 3, 2005.
Despite Hanjin Heavy"s statement that the contract had been cancelled, Lloyd"s List understands that CMA CGM has been given a final deadline of February 22 by which to pay the outstanding amount due. Otherwise, the newbuilding will be offered to other buyers. The second in the series of four, CMA CGM Kessel, has already been sold to interests associated with Greek owner George Economou and is now on charter to Mediterranean Shipping Co.
Plenty of buyers were in the bidding, with sale and purchase activity picking up as cash purchasers seek some good bargains at a time when the container trades appear to be recovering.
The four CMA CGM vessels were ordered at a cost of almost Won116.1bn each, which was equivalent to $100.5m given the Won-US exchange rate at the time.
Discussions on the outcome of similar-sized ships ordered by the former IRISL, now known as Hafiz Darya Shipping Lines after a change of ownership, appear to be making progress.
A South Korea-based insider told Lloyd"s List that ?payment for the final IRISL ship had pretty much been decided and so the vessel should be delivered to them soon?.
The stand-off between CMA CGM and Hanjin Heavy comes at a time when some owners are making a breakthrough after months of pushing for more flexibility for the shipyards.
One of the most radical orderbook restructurings has been achieved by Japan"s NYK Line that has managed to convert an order for two 9,300 teu boxships into a pair of very large crude carriers, and make other changes.
Broking sources said today that plenty of other discussions were going on behind the scenes along similar lines.
But one shipowner that steered clear of the ordering frenzy of three years ago, Evergreen, continues to bide its time.
Order-hungry shipyards are keeping a close eye on the Taiwanese line that has nothing in the pipeline right now, but which has made no secret of its plans to resume newbuilding activity once conditions improve. Group chairman Chang Yung-fa avoided the trap of ordering 13,000 teu ships, insisting that, in his view, 8,500 teu was big enough, with his personal preference for 6,000 teu vessels. But rumours that Evergreen is currently negotiating to order 6,000 teu vessels appear to be premature.
Shipyards ?are always knocking at out door?, said one company source, and Evergreen undoubtedly needs replacements for some of its older tonnage. But there are said to be no plans at this precise moment to place any orders, with the time not yet right to start spending money again.