The founder of Seaspan has weighed into the ongoing maelstrom seen in Korean shipping telling Splash in an exclusive interview today that the Korean government needs to do more to save the ailing sector.
Gerry Wang, co-chairman and ceo of the tonnage provider which has seven boxships on lease to endangered Hanjin Shipping, is adamant that Seoul can and must come the rescue of its shipping lines and yards.
Creditors have demanded the Korean line cut the costs of its chartered-in fleet by as much as 30% as a key first step in its restructuring. Failure to do so will result in court receivership.
The chairman of Hanjin Group met with its lead tonnage provider Seaspan last week, but failed to get its charter fees slashed with Wang saying any rate cuts were out of the question.
“Hanjin Shipping without a liquidity injection from controlling shareholder, the Cho family and the Korea Development Bank will have a very challenging road ahead,” Wang told Splash today, adding: “It is a well run company which hit liquidity snags due to market conditions.”
Wang said Seoul must act now to shore up the nation’s maritime companies.
“I hope the Korean government is fully aware that this is not just a Hanjin Shipping issue – it is concerning their shipbuilding industry, their exports, their national shipping lines, their reputation as law-abiding OECD country,” Wang said.
“If I were the Korean government I would stand firm behind Hanjin Shipping right away,” he added, saying it was vital to give Hanjin creditworthiness to control the liquidity crunch.
As for Seaspan’s own plans, Wang revealed his company is preparing a war chest to snatch bargains in the current choppy shipping climate.
“We are focusing on enhancing our balance sheets and fire power as we believe crisis goes with opportunities,” said Wang.