F Elephant bought

A TMT-owned ore carrier has reportedly been sold at auction in China to a company with “close links” to the Taiwanese shipowner.

TMT says it will now use the 276,000-dwt ore carrier F Elephant (built 1989) to fulfill the balance of a COA contract worth $75m contract with Hunan Valin Steel.

The F Elephant had been under arrest in Ningbo for over a year in a $107m freight-forward-agreement (FFA) dispute with BHP Billiton

An initial auction by Ningbo People’s Maritime Court failed to produce a buyer. A new auction date was subsequently set for 16 May.

“Analysts are seeking to find out why BHP Billiton was so determined to buy the ship,” TMT chief executive Nobu Su said in a statement.

TMT said it has filed a legal suit against BHP for wrongful arrest of the ship as part of a long-running dispute with the metals and mining giant.

It said it is also seeking compensation for the loss of hire as well as the costs of maintenance of F Elephant ever since the ship was arrested in May 2012.

“The habit of very powerful or very rich firms using legal machinery to detain ships because of legal or commercial disputes with ship-owners is a threat to harmonious world trade,’ said Su.

“Of course there are disagreements over terms of trade especially when price movements cannot be explained by normal market conditions.”

“But the only people who suffer when a ship is arrested are the owners of the ship and the crew. I am glad F Elephant can be back in business and working with the world’s biggest steel firms to help the Chinese and world economy grow out of its present troubles,” said Su.