Germany’s Rickmers Group has teamed with U.S.-based Oaktree Capital Management to order eight “eco” container vessels in a pioneering strategic partnership between ship-owner and private equity in response to the growing dearth of ship finance.
The companies did not give the size or cost of the ships, which will be built at a “quality” Asian shipyard for delivery between mid-2014 and mid-2015.
The agreement calls for Oaktree to fund the order and Rickmers to supervise the construction of the ships and handle their operational and commercial management.
The companies have signed an option for a further eight sister ships, which will be built with an emphasis on environmental compliance, operational, load and fuel efficiency.
“Our partnership with Oaktree represents a positive step in the development of new capital sources for the shipping sector,” said Rickmers Holdings CEO Ron Widdows.
“It allows us to begin to respond to the need to start investing in the tonnage of the future, offering liner carriers an attractive alternative to replace their existing higher cost fleet.”
Oaktree, which manages $81 billion of assets, has focused on shipping in recent years. It provided $280 million in loans and equity to German heavy lift shipping line Belgua in 2010 and established a new firm, Hansa Heavy Lift, when it collapsed in 2011. It also injected $175 million in General Maritime, a tanker owner that entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011.