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Shipping line now awaiting a decision from Belgium. HANJIN Shipping vessels will be able to call at ports in Germany without fear of being arrested by creditors seeking payment after legal authorities approved a bankruptcy protection order for the shipping line. A Hanjin official told Lloyd’s List that the company received the approval overnight Asia time. The port of Hamburg was one of the three international ‘safe haven ports’ that the South Korean government initially said Hanjin’s vessels would be able to berth and discharge cargoes at. With this, Hanjin vessels, at least on paper, will be able to berth and discharge their cargoes at international ports in the US, UK, Japan, Singapore and Germany.
The official added that the shipping line was now awaiting a decision from Belgian courts on whether its vessels will be legally protected from being seized in that country. The growing list of nations recognising Hanjin’s rehabilitation procedures in South Korea comes as a number of its vessels are stranded at sea off ports worldwide either for fear of arrest by creditors or as box handling companies refuse to provide unloading services on expectations of non-payment of fees. The official had noted that the latter point was an issue even for nations that had officially extended legal protection to Hanjin’s ships.
Hanjin vessels started docking in Singapore on Thursday after waiting for around three weeks for talks to be settled since the city state was named as a safe port for the troubled South Korean company’s ships. The shipping line noted that due to legal and financial constraints under Korean court receivership, many of its service schedules have been affected. It added that for ships that had been stuck offshore and were unable to discharge cargoes at the intended ports, the shipping line had “exhausted all means to secure alternative options to complete final delivery to the final destination”. “To our sincere regret, we are unable to perform the intended delivery.” Some of the stranded ships have returned to the so-called ‘safe haven’ port of Busan in South Korea to discharge their cargoes, leading to some congestion there.
A Busan port official told Lloyd’s List that to date, a total of 19 containerships were waiting off the coast to be scheduled to call at Hanjin’s container terminal there, with three of those vessels arriving on Friday. Nine Hanjin containerships have already completed the unloading of their cargoes, the official said, adding that port authorities have not encountered any issues with service providers refusing to handle the cargoes so far. Earlier in September, Busan port officials guaranteed that they would pay fees owed for lashing services provided to Hanjin vessels.
The guarantee means Hanjin vessels can again be processed at Busan after lashing service providers refused to work on Hanjin containers for fear of non-payment after the company filed for receivership. The South Korean government has co-opted compatriot shipping line Hyundai Merchant Marine to dispatch 13 of its vessels to relieve stranded Hanjin ships in Europe and the US. In the latest measures, HMM will send 5,041 teu Kaethe P from Busan to Europe on Thursday next week, with port calls at Busan, Shanghai, Yantian, Singapore, Valencia, Southhampton, Rotterdam and Hamburg.
“However, we will flexibly deploy an additional vessel to Europe depending on demand volume. We will pull our weight as a national carrier to [support] the shipping industry,” a HMM official told Lloyd’s List. The official added that the first vessel it deployed to relieve Hanjin ships in the US, the Hyundai Forward, reached the port of Los Angeles on Tuesday. The second containership to the US, Hyundai Platinum left Busan on Monday, while the remaining two vessels, Hyundai Busan and Hyundai Shanghai, are scheduled to depart Busan on September 25 and September 30, respectively. “The departure schedule can be flexibly changed by weather, port congestion or main shippers’ critical request,” the official said.
Source: Lloyd’s List
SEEKING to prevent its vessels from being seized by creditors, South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping has filed for bankruptcy protection under chapter 15 at the US Bankruptcy Court in Newark.
The company’s filing in Seoul has roiled ports in the US and beyond, as creditors seized ships and terminal operators refused to handle cargo.
According to Hanjin, the refusal of ports to handle its cargo has stranded 45 ships at sea and more than half a million containers, reported the Wall Street Journal.
The carrier is the biggest shipping line in Korea, operating 60 regular lines worldwide, with 140 container or bulk vessels, court papers said. It is ranked as the world’s ninth largest container shipping company, transporting 100 million tons of cargo per annum.
In the event the bankruptcy filing is recognised by the US court, the chapter 15 filing will block creditors in the US from seizing the company’s assets or launching other legal actions while its foreign bankruptcy proceedings are under way.
Under chapter 15, companies can protect their US assets from creditors while they seek to sell their holdings or to restructure in their home countries.
Organisations advise shippers to seek legal advice. THE fallout from the collapse of Hanjin Shipping has yet to affect shippers, but shipper organisations are warning members to seek advice. Global Shippers Forum secretary-general Chris Welsh said members should contact their insurers and legal advisers to take appropriate steps to secure their cargoes. “There are potential problems where creditors may exercise a lien on vessels for unpaid bills,” Mr Welsh said. “Shippers would be best advised to take appropriate legal steps to take control of their goods. They will clearly need to advise customers and potentially make contingency arrangements to meet their contractual obligations to customers.”
China Shippers’ Association vice-chairman Cai Jiaxiang said shippers and agents would stop using Hanjin’s ships for fear that their cargoes would be seized along with the ships. “Even though Hanjin’s creditors won’t have claims to the cargoes on board, it will cost a lot for shippers to transport their cargoes from where the ships are seized to their supposed destinations,” Mr Cai said. He added that shippers should pay more attention to contracts’ wording in the wake of the Hanjin fallout. “If shippers use Hanjin’s alliance partners’ services, and those partners put their cargoes on Hanjin ships via space sharing, shippers should be able to claim from those partners if the ships are arrested.”
Hong Kong Shippers Council executive director Sunny Ho said there was no indication so far that Hong Kong was denying access to Hanjin ships. He said he understood that insurers had already cautioned clients last week about the risks of using Hanjin ships in the event of the company going into receivership, and that was likely to mitigate the impact.