February 17, 2009
Excel Maritime suspends dividends
Athens-headquartered Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd (NYSE:EXM) has joined the parade of dry bulk operators that have suspended dividend payments.
The company said today that two charterers, with long-term charters on three of its vessels, have recently unilaterally started to pay approximately 50% of the agreed charter rate. The loss of hire throughout the life of the charters, should the Excel keep receiving the reduced rates, is estimated to be approximately $107 million, of which $32 million would affect 2009 cash flows and another $35 million would affect 2010 cash flows.
In addition, says Excel, "a few of the company's other charterers have also approached the company attempting to renegotiate charter rates."
Excel says that while it monitors the status of its counterparties, it "cannot assure that charterers, will continue to pay hire at agreed rates, reduced rates, or at all."
Excel says it "considers cash flow security and preservation an issue of great importance and as a result will carefully evaluate all its alternatives, including the full enforcement of its legal rights."
Suspension of Dividends
Excel's Board of Directors, "after careful consideration of the challenging conditions both in the freight market and the financial environment, has decided to suspend the company's dividends, including the dividend in respect to the fourth quarter of 2008."
The decision is aimed at preserving cash and enhancing liquidity and "is considered to be a precautionary measure in view of the disruptions arising with some of the company's charters."
Excel says it will also consider other means of enhancing liquidity and strengthening its capital base.
Followings its acquisition of Quintana Maritime last year, Excel owns a fleet of 41 vessels and, together with 7 Panamax vessels under bareboat charters, operates 48 vessels (5 Capesize, 14 Kamsarmax, 21 Panamax, 2 Supramax and 6 Handymax vessels) with a total carrying capacity of approximately 3.9 million DWT.