JUNE 26, 2013 — A judge in a U.S. Court has ruled that banks in Taiwan seeking to put pressure on shipowner Nobu Su’s TMT must allow cash to be used to pay for the costs of crewing and fueling including a TMT ship the banks have detained as part of what TMT terms “their commercial differences with Mr Su.”
Twenty-three single-ship companies associated with TMT last week filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston.
TMT – which once meant Taiwanese Marine Transportation, but now signifies Today Makes Tomorrow – says that two major vessels, the 74,000 cgt C Ladybug at Antwerp and the 320,000 dwt A Whale off Suez, can now be given money which had been previously denied to Mr. Su by banks in Taiwan.
The A Whale, which briefly operated as the world’s largest oil skimmer in the Deepwater Horizon spill clean-up, has bee anchored off Suez for six months, with the crew reportedly unpaid and anxious to return home. The C Ladybug has been in Antwerp for about two months.
“This is a first step in the right direction,” Mr. Su said. “I want to keep TMT afloat precisely in order to pay off all my outstanding debts but I cannot do that if the banks deny me the means to maintain my ships. Until the Chapter 11 filing I was unable to access accounts in Taiwan to pay for crew and for bunker (fuel). I have contracts and orders which can help make money for TMT and Taiwan but I cannot fulfill these if banks simply seek to shut down all operations and punish crews because of a commercial disagreement over rescheduling loans.”
A TMT spokesman said that Mr. Su would soon travel to Houston to give direct evidence to the court and that he was seeking to come to an amicable arrangement with the creditor banks in Taipei with the help of the Taiwanese government.
“Everyone knows the shipping business is in dire straights since the pricing scandals of 2008 and the collapse of the world economy. Nevertheless 90 percent of all world trade is undertaken by ships and there is a future if we just accept to be patient,” a TMT spokesperson added.
TMT says it has already questioned the $3.6 billion valuation the Royal Bank of Scotland placed on its ship Iron Monger 3 in October 2008. This absurdly high price made the sale of the vessel all but impossible and left the crew at the mercy of the RBS over-valuation, says TMT.