Emas Chiyoda Subsea files for bankruptcy protection

Emas Chiyoda Subsea (ECS) has filed a voluntary petition for chapter 11 in the United States Bankruptcy Court in Houston, Texas.

The move comes as Ezra Holdings shares were halted on the SGX today pending an announcement, with many in the industry doubting whether it can continue as an ongoing concern.

According to the filing, ECS intends to enter into a debtor-in-possession credit agreement with Subseas 7 and Chiyoda Corporation, and has received a commitment of up to $90 million from the two companies to support continuing business operations.

Court documents signed by Ezra group CEO and ECS chairman Lionel Lee Chye Tek show the filing to include Emas Chiyoda Subsea Limited, Lewek Falcon Shipping Pte Ltd, EMAS-AMC Pte Ltd, Emas Chiyoda Subsea Services Pte Ltd, EMAS Saudi Arabia Ltd, Emas Chiyoda Subsea Marine Base Holding Co LLC, Emas Chiyoda Subsea Marine Base LLC, Emas Chiyoda Subsea Services BV, Emas Chiyoda Subsea Services (UK) Limited, Emas Chiyoda ROV Pte Ltd, Lewek Constellation Pte Ltd, Emas Chiyoda Subsea Services LLC, Emas Chiyoda Subsea (Thailand) Co Ltd, and Gallatin Marine Management LLC.

A list of creditors with the largest unsecured claims show Singapore bank DBS with claims of around $84.6m, OCBC Bank with $13.1m and the US IRAS at $8.6m. Other major creditors include London Marine Consultants, Bibby Offshore, Standard Chartered Bank, Keppel Shipyard, Crowley, Technip and Gulfmark.

Chiyoda Corporation paid $180m to Ezra Holdings for a 50% stake in EMAS-AMC in March 2016 to create Emas Chiyoda Subsea. In September 2016, NYK acquired a 25% stake in the joint venture, taking 10% from Ezra and 15% from Chiyoda.

Cracks started appear in the joint venture as early as May 2016, when Splash reported that it was looking to stack $150m pipelay vessel Lewek Centurion.

In mid-December, Norwegian owners Forland Subsea and Ocean Yield revealed further problems for ECS. Forland announced that the jv company had defaulted on charter payments for Lewek Inspector while Ocean Yield said that ECS had requested a standstill agreement relating to the bareboat charter of Lewek Connector.

Earlier this month, Forland served Ezra Holdings, as guarantor for the charter, with a statutory demand asking for payment of over NOK25.5m ($3.09m) within three weeks or it would apply for Ezra Holdings to be wound up by the High Court of Singapore. 

Meanwhile in the US, Bibby Offshore filed a case in a Texas court in January, demanding arbitration claiming it is owed around $14.7m from $18.1m worth of contracts performed in Trinidad in 2016. Bibby was later granted permission by the court to arrest subsea vessel Lewek Express while the arbitration is ongoing.

Last week, Splash reported talk of Subsea 7 looking to buy Nippon Yusen Kaisha’s (NYK) 25% stake in the company. A spokesperson from NYK said the company was still in talks as to how to proceed and had yet to reach a conclusion.

Since then, more legal action followed and yesterday Splash revealed that Helix Energy Solutions forced the foreclosure of the EMAS Marine Base in Ingleside, Texas. ECS had defaulted on a $10m payment due on December 31, 2016.

Seperately, Ezra company Emas Offshore warned it would likely have its shares suspended today in Oslo and Singapore for its failure to issue its annual report on time.

Grant Rowles

Grant spent nine years at Informa Group based in London, Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore. He gained strong management experience in publishing, conferences and awards schemes in the shipping and legal areas, working on a number of titles including Lloyd's List. In 2009 Grant joined Seatrade responsible for the commercial development of Seatrade’s Asia products. In 2012, with Sam Chambers, he co-founded Asia Shipping Media.
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