Friday, June 19, 2009
US Maritime Administration reported moving to seize two Hawaii Superferries
by Larry Geller
… [Austal] chief executive Bob Browning said yesterday talks with the US Maritime Administration, which ranks above Austal as a secured creditor of Superferry, had “come unstuck” in the past 24 hours.
It is understood the USMA, whose debt stands at $US135 million, declined to provide the maintenance funding for Superferry’s vessels while it completed the reorganisation and instead moved to seize the ferries.
Mr Browning said the exposure was the only such financing deal Austal had entered into “and we won’t be doing it again”. [The West Australian, Austal cops $US11m Hawaii hit, 6/20/2009]
These days, “superferry” hits from Google searches usually come up with news of the ferry service in the Philippines, which has had its share of bumps but which is still running.
Recently, there are hits for a new superferry named the Norman Arrow, which is crossing the English Channel:
Try out the new fast cross-channel superferry – Norman Arrow, the world’s largest diesel-powered catamaran – which docks at delightful Boulogne-sur-Mer, with its superb beaches and chic boutiques, just an hour after leaving Dover. [easier.com, 6/18/2009]
The ferry has its own blog, here and here.
Larry, Good quick report.
You see this too?:
What will be really interesting is who buys the two vessels from MARAD and at what price.
If Austal bought them for the outstanding load value, it would be at a discount. They could resell them and recoup their losses, but it would tie up $135 million for as much as a year.
If Lehman were allowed to buy them and lease them to the military, he could get both of them at a discount of $135 million and begin to recoup some of the losses he had with HSF.
If the DoD bought them at $135 million, starts using the Huakai in the short-term and the Alakai by the end of the year after retrofit, they would be getting them at a steal, for $75 to 80 million each, considering they are prepared to shell out $185 million for just one JHSV from Austal.
I think the most likely buyer is the DoD, or MARAD just pays off the bonds and leases them to the military...Cut out the middle men.
If these vessels are attempted to be deployed commercially, it would need to be on routes of 35 to 75 miles to have a chance at viability. It is much more likely that they would be useful militarily rather than commercially...as was always the case.
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