Three Hanjin charter ships sold as cargo freeze likened to "Lehman collapse"

Jessica Morris
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Hanjin filed for receivership in a Seoul Court on 31 August (Source: Getty)

Three ships that had been chartered by troubled shipping firm Hanjin have been sold and two more put up for sale.

The collapse of Hanjin – which filed for bankruptcy last month – has played havoc with global cargo flows and been likened to the Lehman credit freeze in terms of its effect on the industry.

Brokers told Reuters one ship was sold charter-free by Japan's Kumiai Senpaku to Singapore's Winning Shipping for $22.75m (£17.25m) and two smaller vessels had been sold to Greek buyers. Meanwhile, two others have been put up for sale.

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More than half of Hanjin's container ships are chartered, meaning they have been leased by another firm.

"The Hanjin shipping bust has similarities to the Lehman collapse in that the event has caused $14bn (£10.6bn) of cargo to be frozen and tied up globally as ports, tugboat operators and cargo handling firms ... [refuse] to work for Hanjin," investment bank Investec wrote in a note to clients today.

The cargo has been effectively stuck since Hanjin filed for receivership in a Seoul Court on 31 August. And while some ships have been offloaded since then, bottlenecks are beginning to form.

Some of the ships which have been stranded at sea contain large volumes of commodities, such as iron ore, coal and grain, which are worth millions of pounds.

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"We wonder how much cargo comprises commodities thereby helping to support and even lift some prices," Investec added.

Hanjin has been given until late November to come up with a rehabilitation plan that its creditors agree to.

The company owns a fleet of 63 ships which is reportedly worth about $1.76bn, much less than the $5.5bn in debt that the firm reported at the end of June this year. It had chartered another 78 vessels before its failure.