June 24, 2009
Chiquita says Eastwind bankruptcy won't slow banana flow
Banana lovers can relax. Chiquita Brands International, Inc. (NYSE: CQB) today announced that it does not expect the bankruptcy filing by Eastwind Maritime Inc. and certain of its affiliates to adversely affect service to Chiquita's customers and the delivery of its bananas and other fresh fruit products.
"All of the 12 oceangoing ships that the company sold in 2007 remain under long-term charter to Chiquita, including the four ships sold to Eastwind," said the company.
"We are taking appropriate steps to protect Chiquita's interests under these long-term charters," said Waheed Zaman, senior vice president, product supply organization. "While Chiquita's shipping operations represent only a comparatively small part of Eastwind's business, we have been monitoring developments closely and are working with the other parties involved in the chartering relationships to help assure ongoing and timely service to our customers."
New York based Eastwind Maritime Inc. yesterday filed a voluntary Chapter 7 petition for liquidation of the company and most of its subsidiaries in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York. An estate administrator is expected to be appointed by the court shortly.
Before the roof fell in, Eastwind operated about 60 reefers, 18 bulkers, 17 product tankers and 18 containerships.
The bankruptcy followed news that lender Nordea had foreclosed on 13 of Eastwind's ships and had sold them to Draften, a company controlled Israeli shipowner Sammy Ofer.
Eastwind has also been facing a slew of lawsuits, among the most recent being one filed by Bunkers International.
In its filing, Eastwind says it has between 200 and 999 creditors, estimated assets of $500 million to $1 billion and estimated liabilities of $500 million to $1 billion. It lists the location of its principal assest as "U.S. and international trade waters."