Still owing around $1.3 billion, Bourbon will shed more vessels

Written by Nick Blenkey
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French offshores services leader Bourbon Maritime says that its recovery plan and a conciliation protocol signed with its creditors were validated on December 14 by the Commercial Court of Marseilles.

Bourbon says that this decision allows it to end reorganization proceedings and that it will complete the financial and capital restructuring of the group by the end of the year.

The restructured Bourbon will have around $1.3 billion in debt and has plans to cut its fleet to less than 350 vessels, compared with its current 458.

At the heart of the restructuring is a debt-for-equity swap that will see new shareholders joining the banks that currently own Société Phocéenne de Participation, the company that acquired the assets of Bourbon Corporation under a court judgement issued just under a year ago (see earlier story).

The agreements with the creditors will lead to a reduction of more than € 1.5 billion (about $1.4 billion) in the group’s debt, reducing it from €2.648 billion ($3.24 billion) to €1.065 billion (about $1.3 billion), including €228 million (about $279 million) in bonds redeemable for shares (issued by the Société Phocéenne de Participations, potentially converted into shares by the end of 2021, depending on market conditions). The conversion of the major part of this debt into equity significantly strengthens the group’s balance sheet. In addition, these agreements provide for new financing of up to €150 million (about $183 million), repayable over three years.

The implementation of the restructuring will result in the entry of new shareholders into the capital of Société Phocéenne de Participation (SPP) alongside the current shareholders, the banking groups BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Crédit Mutuel, BPCE and Société Générale. The latter will keep the majority of the capital. ICBCL and Standard Chartered Bank will take a stake of approximately 18% and 10% respectively. The other creditors who have agreed to convert part of their debt into capital will hold the rest of the capital.

SPP’s Supervisory Board is chaired by Jean Peyrelevade, with Olivier Dubois as vice-president. Gaël Bodénès will become sole CEO, while remaining Chairman of Bourbon Maritime.

Bourbon says its recovery is based its strategic action plan, which prioritizes the transformation of business models towards more integrated services and the digitalization of the fleet, “making it possible to improve operational excellence for our customers while gradually reducing vessel operating costs and CO2 emissions.”

In terms of resizing, the target fleet at the end of 2021 will be less than 350 vessels.

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