HSH Nordbank named as seller of fleet to MPCC

Deal could be German lender's last before it is sold next week.

HSH Nordbank has been identified as the seller of a fleet of boxships to MPC Container Ships (MPCC) in what could be its last major shipping deal before the state-owned bank is itself sold next week.

Banking sources in Hamburg confirm that 14 containerships of between 1,300 teu and 2,800 teu have been disposed of by the lender ahead of an anticipated sale of the bank next week to Cerberus and J.C. Flowers.

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The US investors are reported by German media as being ready to pay up to EUR 1bn ($1.2bn) for HSH Nordbank by the privatisation deadline on 28 February.

That is a much higher price than was thought possible when the privatisation process was launched over a year ago, which some attribute to the improvement in the container shipping markets and a weaker US dollar.

Optimism about continued financing

The prospect of a successful privatisation has fueled optimism in Hamburg that the bank will continue as a ship financier when a transfer of ownership takes place later in the year.

That is despite the reduction of its shipping portfolio which continued on Tuesday with the long-anticipated sale of 14 feeder vessels to Oslo-listed MPCC.

TradeWinds reported in November that MPCC was negotiating to buy eight ships operated in pools of 1,300-teu and 1,500-teu built at Zhejian Ouhua Shipbuilding in China.

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The remaining six ships sold by HSH Nordbank are made up of three pairs of 1,800-teu, 2,500-teu and 2,800-teu ships built at Taizhou Kouan, STX Shipbuilding and Hyundai Mipo yards, respectively.

The fleet has an average age of under 10 years although their names could not be positively identified.

The deal will leave MPCC -- whose managing director Constantin Baack could not be contacted Wednesday -- with ownership of 58 containerships.