Nobu calls for help

Nobu Su has admitted for the first time TMT is facing financial pressure and is looking to bring in help to aid its survival efforts.

The colourful shipowner says discussions with corporate restructuring experts, including AlixPartners, are underway to assist his aim of refocusing the company.

In a statement Su said:  “We intend to appoint a restructuring adviser with a first class reputation in corporate restructuring and given TMT's ambitious plans in the energy sector we need their support and advice in ensuring we can fully exploit these exciting new opportunities.

“The traditional freight and shipping industry will still be a core business for TMT, but given the increasing demands for cleaner energy, TMT will bring its latest technology and its knowhow to the growing LNG sector.”

TMT has endured a difficult time since the collapse in shipping markets having invested heavily during the boom years.

It has also not been an easy time for the owner himself, having been slapped with a prison sentence following a long-running dispute with NewLead.

Today the company said: “TMT, like other shipping companies, has suffered in recent years because of the inexplicable price fluctuations in the cost of iron ore and the lack of openness and transparency in the indices which set the prices in the market.”

Advisors will be charged with bringing efficiency to its core business and developing new energy related projects, TMT says. 

“The company has invested heavily in new vessels for shipping and is in negotiations with both natural gas suppliers and consumers,” it said.

The statement concluded: “TMT are currently preparing a formal complaint to the competition authorites in the EU over what they feel has been anti competitive behaviour and abuse of dominance in the iron ore sector echoing the sentiments of the Chinese Government.”

TMT's move underlines the intense cash squeeze some big shipping names remain under, due to the pincer of low freight rates and high fuel costs, with many still facing heavy outstanding debts that cannot be refinanced easily.

A senior finance lawyer, who declined to be identified, recently told TradeWinds: "We've been doing a great deal of work behind the scenes restructuring some very big names - names that are well known.

"People would be staggered if they knew full depth of the crunch facing some of these companies and families."

While this is the first time TMT has admitted to any restructuring efforts, it is known to have faced issues since the markets crashed.

Failure to take up delivery of a string of newbuildings led to a loss of almost $120m for Hyundai Heavy Industries at the end of last year after the ships were sold on.

He has also faced legal challenges, including the NewLead battle which led to an 18 month sentence for contempt of court.

TMT did not offer any information regarding its remaining fleet, financial performance or debt. TradeWinds is awaiting a response from the owner’s media relations representatives for further information. lists TMT with a fleet of 27 vessels worth just shy of $1bn. It no longer has any newbuildings to its name, according to the Seasure-backed website.

AlixPartners is no stranger to shipping restructuring deals having worked with TBS to address its difficulties.