COVID-19 hinders Nordic Shipholding’s merger talks

Discussions on a potential merger between Danish shipowner Nordic Shipholding and an unidentified tanker firm have been delayed due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, the company said.

Image courtesy: Nordic Shipholding

“The majority shareholder of the company had commenced merger discussions with a potential entity since late 2019. However, these merger discussions have stalled due to the diminished financial and economic visibility that have evolved and are still evolving from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Nordic Shipholding said.

In the meantime, the company has offered one of its vessels, Nordic Hanne, to the market for sale to secure longer-term financing in the renegotiation of the group’s loan facilities. 

As informed, no potential buyer has been identified so far.

Copenhagen-listed Nordic Shipholding A/S owns five product tanker vessels, four handysize tankers and one LR1.

The handysize tankers are employed in the Hafnia Handy Pool, and the LR1 unit in the Hafnia LR1 Pool (formerly Straits Pool), both operated by Hafnia, Copenhagen.

The tanker owner has reinstated its guidance for 2020, with the group’s expected EBITDA for 2020 being in the range of $ 14 million–$ 17 million. The result before tax is between $ 2.5 million–$ 5.5 million.

The outlook for 2020 does not take into account any impairment or write-back of impairment of vessels’ carrying values, except for the vessel currently earmarked for sale.

Nordic Shipholding said that 2020 started strongly with the vessels grossing very high TCE rates for several months. However, TCE rates abated as the group entered H2 2020. 

Historically, Q3 is the weakest quarter and the expectation is that the market will improve slowly over the winter period, the shipowner added. 

Barring unforeseen circumstances and no vessel sales, the group is forecasted to incur a small loss or breakeven in H2 2020.

The Copenhagen-listed shipowner said that it continues to pursue growth and potential consolidation opportunities that are accretive to the company.