MPC Group and Thien & Heyenga, the leading German ship management companies, have taken over the financially troubled Ahrenkiel Group in the latest consolidation in the nation’s crisis-ridden charter shipping sector.
MPC didn’t release financial details of the takeover of the family-owned group, which has a 40-strong fleet of container ships, bulk carriers and product tankers.
Ahrenkiel’s operations will be pooled with those of MPC and Thien & Heyenga into a new company, Ahrenkiel Steamship, which will rank among the top 10 container ship managers with a fleet of 62 vessels, MPC said.
In total, the new company, together with Buss Shipping, will market 139 ships under the name of Contchart.
The acquisition “is taking place against the backdrop of the consistently weak shipping markets of recent years, and is a step towards market consolidation,” Hamburg-based MPC said.
The restructuring of Ahrenkiel, led by HSH Nordbank, the world’s biggest ship financier, and supported by other creditor banks, was a key factor behind the acquisition, MPC added.
“The merger gives us a magnitude that will enable us to operate at significantly greater cost efficiency with a high level of service,” said Ahrenkiel Steamship’s managing director Constantin Baack.
“This ensures our competitive capability in what is currently an extremely challenging market environment and, at the same time, gives us a good basis for growth when the markets pick up again.”
MPC and Thien & Heyenga formed a joint-venture to market their vessels in October 2012.
The Ahrenkiel deal is expected to pave the way for further consolidation of the heavily indebted German shipping sector, especially the container ship sector, which is burdened with a surplus of vessels ordered before the market c collapse in 2009 that pushed charter rates to record lows.
Germany’s DVB Bank, one of the leading lenders in the global transport sector, last week unveiled record loss provisions for loans to shipping companies.
The bank said it expects the shipping sectors under most stress — containers, bulk carriers and oil tankers — will not recover before 2015, “with a slow recovery afterwards.”
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