WILH. WILHELMSEN DID BETTER IN '87 BUT STILL RAN IN RED

WILH. WILHELMSEN DID BETTER IN '87 BUT STILL RAN IN RED

Difficult market conditions in the offshore sector left Wilh. Wilhelmsen with another deficit in fiscal 1987, but the major Norwegian shipping company did manage a considerable improvement over 1986.

The deficit was $158 million two years ago, while the figure shrank to $18.3 million last year.Wilh. Wilhelmsen's information officer, Hans Bangsmoen, said the 1987 result was as expected. Shipping activities were much improved over 1986, and development was positive in most areas where the company is active, with the exception of offshore service.

Revenue last year was $532 million, compared with $555.5 million the previous year. A lower exchange rate on the dollar was the prime reason for the decline, although this did help reduce interest charges.

Wilh. Wilhelmsen's agreement with its creditors expires at the end of this year. The agreement suspended payment of principal on 60 percent of the company's debt from July 1986. Payments on the remaining 40 percent were met in 1987, and the company expects to meet its repayment obligations this year as well.

Two of Wilh. Wilhelmsen's five offshore oil rigs are currently unemployed, but Mr. Bangsmoen said there is hope for full employment by the second half of this year. However, the rigs are not earning enough at prevailing market rates to cover even capital costs.

Projections for the shipping markets, especially in the tank and bulk sectors, are more promising than first expected, but 1988 shipping results are expected to remain stagnant.

Wilh. Wilhelmsen's liquidity situation is satisfactory, with about $83 million in cash and on deposit in banks. The company also picked up a potential $65 million saving in interest charges on its debts through the

average low exchange rate on the dollar in 1987.