Ownership of Vroon will change hands after the ailing Dutch shipowner reached a refinancing agreement with its lenders. The substantial debt write-off will see the majority of the shares go to 18 banks, leaving the Vroon family, which established the company in 1890, with a limited role.
Breda-based Vroon has been suffering heavy losses for years as a result of the oil price slump in 2014 and the pandemic that negatively impacted the offshore sector in which the company has a considerable presence. Vroon said its other businesses were also negatively affected by the pandemic but to a lesser extent.
The company implemented cost reduction measures throughout 2020, which included the sale of 18 ships that were considered either uneconomical or non-strategic, including boxships, bulkers, crew transfer vessels and car carriers. Vroon operates and manages, under different brand names, a diverse fleet of more than 100 vessels.
The agreement with the banks is still subject to formal approval and is expected to be implemented in the first half of 2022. Moving forward, the remaining debt would be around €350m ($396m). Vroon booked a loss of $314m in 2020. The company said it expects better numbers for 2021, despite a smaller fleet, and a continued improvement for its offshore division and most of its remaining shipping businesses in 2022.