Ail­ing ship­per moves to re­solve chaos

The Daily Herald - - LOCAL NEWS -

SEOUL, South Korea — Fi­nan­cially trou­bled Han­jin Ship­ping Co. will seek stay or­ders in dozens of coun­tries this week to help min­i­mize dis­rup­tions caused by its slide into bank­ruptcy pro­ceed­ings, the Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Com­mis­sion said Mon­day.

Han­jin, the coun­try’s largest ocean con­tainer ship­per, will seek bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion in 43 coun­tries, in­clud­ing Canada, Ger­many and Bri­tain, FSC of­fi­cials said.

The mea­sure is aimed at “min­i­miz­ing the cases where Han­jin Ship­ping’s ves­sels are be­ing seized in for­eign coun­tries,” South Korea’s gov­ern­ment said in a state­ment jointly re­leased by sev­eral min­istries in­clud­ing the FSC. Han­jin said last week that one ship had been seized by its owner in Sin­ga­pore.

South Korea will ask each coun­try to ex­pe­dite the “Stay Or­der” process, it said.

Han­jin sought bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion in the U.S. and South Korea last week.

A com­pany spokes­woman, Park Eun-hye, con­firmed Han­jin was mov­ing to pro­tect its as­sets but re­fused to spec­ify in how many coun­tries, be­yond the U.S. and South Korea. She said Han­jin would re­lease an up­date on the num­ber of ships be­ing held by cred­i­tors later Mon­day.

With its as­sets frozen, its ships are be­ing re­fused per­mis­sion to off­load or take on con­tain­ers at ports world­wide, out of con­cern tug­boat pi­lots or steve­dores wouldn’t be paid. Han­jin said that out of 141 ves­sels it op­er­ates, 68 were not op­er­at­ing nor­mally, were stranded or seized, as of Sun­day.

The South Korean gi­ant rep­re­sents nearly 8 per­cent of the trans-Pa­cific trade vol­ume for the U.S. mar­ket, and with Han­jin’s con­tainer ships ma­rooned off­shore, ma­jor re­tail­ers were scram­bling to work out con­tin­gency plans to get their mer­chan­dise into stores.

Han­jin, the world’s sev­enth largest ocean ship­per, is part of the Seoul-based Han­jin Group, a huge, fam­ily-dom­i­nated con­glom­er­ate, or chae­bol, that also in­cludes Korean Air.

Global de­mand and trade have suf­fered since the 2008 re­ces­sion, but ship­ping lines con­tin­ued to build more and larger ves­sels. That weaker trade and over­ca­pac­ity have sent ocean ship­ping rates plung­ing in re­cent years.

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