Photo: Image courtesy: Hunter Group

Hunter Tankers scores $157 million for refinancing

Hunter Tankers AS, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Norwegian Hunter Group ASA, has received binding commitments for a $ 157.5 million loan facility from a syndicate of banks consisting of Danske Bank, DNB, Nordea, and SEB.

The proceeds from the facility, along with available cash at hand, will be used to refinance Hunter Atla, Hunter Saga and Hunter Laga, which are currently financed by sale-and-leasebacks with SFL Corporation.

Hunter tanker
Image courtesy: Hunter Group

“The refinancing will reduce the company’s leverage, cost of capital and consequently cash breakeven levels, and is an important step in line with the company’s strategy of being a low-cost provider of tanker tonnage.,” the company said.

The loan will have a repayment profile of 16 years and will carry an initial interest rate of Libor + 295bps for the first twelve months, following which the interest rate margin will be subject to a market adjustment mechanism.

The refinancing of Hunter Atla and Hunter Saga is expected to be completed in approximately two months, while Hunter Laga will be refinanced in the latter part of the year.

Subsequent to the loan announcement, Hunter Group notified SFL Corporation that it plans to exercise purchase options for the three VLCCs accordingly.

Ole B. Hjertaker, CEO of SFL Management AS, said the company sees an increasing number of opportunities to deploy capital in its core segments, given the increased need for alternative capital providers in the maritime industry.

“The Hunter transaction has been very attractive for SFL as it has generated a strong return on an investment with a very low risk profile. Our ambition is always to structure tailor made chartering or financing arrangements for our customers in combination with attractive risk-adjusted returns for our shareholders, and in this project we agreed on repurchase flexibility in exchange for higher return on capital.”

The facility is an accordion feature of the $220 million loan the company secured from the same syndicate in the first quarter of 2020.

The proceeds from the $220 million loan are assigned for funding the final yard instalments for the company’s four newbuild VLCCs, and are drawn on delivery of each vessel.

Completion of the loans makes Hunter Tankers AS the registered owner of all seven vessels.

Hunter Atla and Hunter Laga commenced their TCs in late March and early April, respectively. 

Hunter Disen, the fifth of seven identical ECO design VLCC newbuildings from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) was delivered in early June and commenced its time charter immediately following delivery from the yard. 

The remaining two vessels are scheduled to be delivered in July and August 2020. 

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