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Four Hansa Heavy Lift ships arrested after legal action by bunker company

Legal action by bunker giant World Fuel Services has led to the arrest of four ships from collapsed Hamburg-based carrier Hansa Heavy Lift. The preliminary liquidator is currently in talks with the bunker company and the financing banks, he tells ShippingWatch.

Photo: Hansa Heavy Lift

Four of insolvent carrier Hansa Heavy Lift's ships have been arrested.

Legal action taken by bunker company World Fuel Services has led to the arrest of the heavy lift shipping company's ships, preliminary administrator Dr. Christoph Morgen tells ShippingWatch. Hansa Heavy Lift filed for bankruptcy protection last week.

"As of today four Hansa Heavy Lift ships have been arrested due to legal action of World Fuel Services. Despite this fact preliminary insolvency administrator Dr. Christoph Morgen is engaged in talks with the financing banks and World Fuel Services," the administrator confirms in a brief written comment to ShippingWatch.

The preliminary administrator declines to inform which four ships, of Hansa Heavy Lift's fleet of a total 13 ships, have been arrested.

According to sources ShippingWatch has spoken to, an arrest of one of Hansa Heavy Lift's ships in France was the reason why equity fund Oaktree at first opted to withdraw financing for the carrier on Dec. 10 this year. Morgen declines to comment further on the information to ShippingWatch.

"Worked tirelessly"

A protracted process culminated in equity fund Oaktree's decision 11 days ago to pull its support for Hansa Heavy Lift.

In a statement on Dec.10, Oaktree said that the equity fund had been working "tirelessly" to find a solution to the heavy lift shipping company's financial woes.

"However, given the ongoing structural challenges in the global heavy lift shipping sector, Oaktree is supportive of the company's decision to file for insolvency and has decided not to make any additional capital investments in the business," wrote Oaktree on the day when Hansa Heavy Lift filed for bankruptcy protection.

Two days after the company filed for bankruptcy protection, Christoph Morgen was appointed preliminary administrator and thus put in charge of the legal process that is now underway.

Long-time pressure

Prior to the insolvency, Hansa Heavy Lift has been under severe pressure for years in the challenging market that has characterized the heavy lift segment, and subsequently low rates and dwindling earnings.

Hansa Heavy Lift was established in 2011 on the leftovers of Beluga Shipping, which until 2011 was the world's biggest operator of heavy lift tonnage. Before being declared insolvent, the Beluga was acquired by equity fund Oaktree Capital, which is currently also a majority stakeholder in Torm

Oaktree built up the current Hansa Heavy Lift, which at one point had former Maersk exec Thomas Dyrby as CEO.

Equity funds usually operate with an investment horizon of 5 to 7 years, and as such, Hansa Heavy Lift has been more or less up for sale a couple of years, but this sales process was ultimately unsuccessful.

English Edit: Daniel Logan Berg-Munch

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