CMA CGM seeks bank advice on short-term finances
French liner carrier CMA CGM said Tuesday it has enlisted a consortium of international banks to advise the company about its near- and medium-term financial needs.
CMA CGM's statement comes after a weekend of speculation by French media that the carrier had been speaking to various banks about how to negotiate the current demand downturn. The reports, allegedly based on unnamed sources within the company, were never confirmed by CMA CGM officials. However, the carrier deemed it necessary to clarify its conversations with banks.
'CMA CGM reached agreement on the establishment of a committee comprised of French, European and international banks including certain major financial institutions from Asia and the Republic of Korea,' the carrier said in the statement. 'The committee will propose suitable measures to address the group’s short- and medium-term financing requirements with a view to strengthening CMA CGM’s capital structure and, in so doing, ensuring its ongoing development. The French State is aware of this initiative and will be kept regularly updated on the progress made.
'CMA CGM will continue with the initiatives started during the course of 2009, including notably with respect to the renegotiation, and in some cases, the cancellation of certain ship deliveries,' the carrier added. 'Regular working sessions of the committee are already scheduled. CMA CGM is aiming to reach an all-encompassing agreement with the help of the committee by the middle of November.'
The carrier, the world's third-largest in terms of fleet capacity and volume, has an ambitious vessel expansion plan and has avoided laying up ships as many of its rivals have. But it has been buffeted just the same by low freight rates. Along with cooperative partner Maersk, the line recently suspended a transpacific all-water service from Asia to the U.S. East Coast, one that only started in spring. Capacity between Europe and South America has also been rationalized.
However, the carrier said freight volumes and rates picked up in the third quarter and have sustained in the fourth quarter.
'Forecasted load factors and freight rates for the beginning of 2010 suggest a possible continuation of these recent positive trends,' the statement said.
The company contained no specifics on which banks it has enlisted.