Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Seaspan aiming for another giant containership order

After penning a US $2.5 bn deal at China’s Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipbuilding for seven firm 10,000-teu vessels plus 18 options and then inking a letter of intent for 10 vessels of 14,000 teu at STX Offshore & Shipbuilding plus 10 options at $140m apiece, Seaspan is showing interest in 18,000-teu vessels and has approached South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding, Hyundai Heavy Industries and Samsung Heavy Industries. There are never enough container vessels deals for its CEO Gerry Wang!

Seapan is a story of unlimited Chinese export growth. Despite the 2008 container market crash and massive losses of major liner companies in 2009, Seaspan avoided any cancellations in its newbuilding program. Since the market recovery last year, Seaspan has been aggressively ordering additional tonnage.

Whilst box rates have been under pressure, time charter rates have been rising with a moderate, steady increase that is now stabilizing. Margins have been satisfactory. Demand growth is expected to outpace supply with a forecasted 1,7% increase in fleet utilization this year as well as 5% appreciation in asset values.

Liner companies are moving to ever larger tonnage to escape the pressure on box rates and gain market share over competitors by shipping a larger number of containers on the same vessel.

Seaspan has successfully tied up some long-term charters with Hanjin Shipping for several newly contracted TEU-10.000 newbuildings. Hanjin normally fixes in small to medium-size ships for around seven years and large vessels for more than 12 years. Hanjin was a breakthrough for Seaspan given its past close relations with German KG containership investors.

Seaspan has attracted a lot of investor interest this year. As with all listed companies, these large block expansion deals attract investor interest on future expectations. Its shares soared to excess US$ 20 levels in April, only to fall back to present US$ 15 levels. The company has been slowly recovering from it lofty pre-2008 meltdown levels, but it remainsl far away yet.

The question is where Seaspan is going to employ these envisaged TEU-18.000 units? The group has been relying increasingly on Chinese state controlled liner companies COSCO and CSCL to back its new orders.

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