Rickmers Beats Forecast, Invests in Fleet Modernization

Hamburg-based Rickmers Group wrapped up the 2014 financial year with an overall improvement in the result versus the previous year, the company said.

The shipping group reported consolidated sales of EUR 545.4 million (around USD 578 million), a slight fall of 5.7 percent versus the previous financial year.

However, the company’s consolidated operational result (EBITDA) rose from EUR 191.8 million in 2013 to EUR 209.5 million.

“Consequently, the development was better than forecast. At 2.1 million euros, the previous year’s net result was matched,” the company said.

Based on the group’s current development, rating agency Creditreform upgraded the company rating from CCC to B-.

During the 2014 financial year the Rickmers Group was busy with negotiations on the general restructuring of key bank loans amounting to 1.28 billion euros. The group concluded the negotiations successfully in February 2015.

In parallel to refinancing the bank loans, preparations were also set out in relation to increasing and strengthening the group’s equity, with the aim of expanding the scope of internal financing for long-term growth.

“Besides the very satisfactory performance of the growth initiatives, the efficiency-enhancement programme initiated in May 2014 in the Rickmers-Linie segment also yielded results. While losses of around EUR 12 million were still incurred in the first half of 2014, a loss of just EUR 3 million was sustained in the second half of the year thanks to the intensified cost-saving measures. This positive trend continued in Q1 2015,“Rickmers added.

The Rickmers Group has decided to invest USD 50 million in modernisation of major parts of its fleet on the basis of an agreement with a charter customer who will also contribute to the investment.

These energy-efficiency improvement comprise modifications to the respective ships ranging from fitting a new bulbous bow to changing the screw type.

Moreover, in order to increase the ships’ container capacity activities like re-engineering load-securing systems, strengthening hatch covers and switching to new loading software are also planned to take place.

“Energy efficiency and lower bunker consumption are key factors in our fleet’s competitiveness. Intelligent retrofitting measures bring existing ships close to the latest technological standards, meaning that newbuilds are not always necessary – something that our long-standing customers value very highly,Rickmers Group CEO Dr Ignace Van Meenen comments.

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