Maersk Line returns 14 ships to KG fund

Maersk Line has opted to return 14 container ships to the German KG fund MPC two years and three months before time. However, the fund has already sold the ships on to scrapping.

Maersk Line continues its announced strategy of returning ships to owners, a move that is set to hit German KG funds in particular. Now Maersk Line returns 14 container ships two years and three months before the original twelve year charter contract is set to expire, according to Deutsche Schiffahrts Zeitung.

The German KG fund MPC Flottenfonds III, owned by MPC Capital, receives the ships, and the fund informs that the ships have already been sold on for scrapping. The ships were built between 1991 and 1995, have a capacity of 3,600 to 4,200 teu, around 56,000 teu in total. The price and terms of the sale have not been made public, says Deutsche Schiffahrts Zeitung.

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Maersk Line confirms to ShippingWatch that the 14 ships will be returned to MPC, but the carrier has no further comments on the matter beyond this.

In relation to the deal, a spokesman for MPC Capital stated that the ships were returned to the fund because there was an opportunity to sell the ships on in a move that would bring solid returns for the private KG investors in the fund.

"Due to the changed market environment in the shipping industry and the existing prospectus of the KG fund and its contractual settings an ‘exit’ at a later point in time might have not realised the same return on investments for KG-investors of the MPC Capital ship fund," he says.

Maersk Line rethinks entire fleet network

In October, then-COO of Maersk Line, Morten Engelstoft, explained in an interview with ShippingWatch that the carrier, as the remaining Triple-E ships were delivered, was working to rethink its entire fleet network, a process that included the return of chartered ships, which at the time accounted for approx. 42 percent of the company's fleet.

"We're constantly looking at our network, and thus our entire fleet, to ensure that we're using our ships in the best way possible. But we basically have sufficient flexibility to make sure that we're not left with the problem of receiving so much tonnage that it becomes impossible for us to reduce the total fleet capacity to a level suited to our needs," he said.

Maersk Line currently has more than 300 ships on charter, and a significant number of these are chartered on fairly short contracts that will either have to be extended within the near future, or returned to their owners, Maersk tells ShippingWatch.

MPC Capital has launched and structured some 126 funds with a total 3 billion euros in capital, and an investment volume of 8.9 billion euros within the maritime sector, according to the company's website.

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