The Hamburg shipping community has reacted with shock and sadness that one of the city’s erstwhile maritime champions Hermann Ebel has become the latest victim of the container downturn. Ebel, who via his firm Hansa Treuhand, was a pioneer of the KG system, has now sought court protection for a number of his ships.
In a statement on the Hansa Treuhand site, the company said it would look to halve its fleet of around 50 ships, admitting that any turnaround in shipping was several years away. The German owner has sought creditor protection for 15 container ships at a court in Hamburg. German media is reporting around one quarter of the company’s 130 staff in Hamburg will be made redundant.
Splash understands Ebel’s own personal shipping investments have been wiped out.
“I feel sorry for him, because he has been one of those in denial of the market situation. He kept KG activities going for another seven or eight years after Lehman,” a source in Hamburg commented.
A report carried on Splash last week suggested that around 20% of KG ships were now insolvent, a figure sources in Germany expect to grow by another 40%.
Hansa Treuhand stated that its cruise business, Sea Cloud Cruises, and its shipbroking outfits, Hansa Chartering and United Maritime Brokers, would all continue to operate.
On lessons learnt during the downturn, Ebel reflected in an interview with Maritime CEO three years ago: “Hindsight is easier than foresight. However, it is true that too many vessels have been ordered in the past. Some of us ought to have known better.”