ECONOMY

Bondholders file writ against Enterprises Shipholding

LONDON – Bondholders who financed the expansion of Greek-controlled shipping company Enterprises Shipholding said they had sued Enterprises for allegedly defrauding them of part of their $175 million investment. The writ alleges that just before the company defaulted on the bond’s $7.76 million semi-annual interest coupon in July, it sold four ships to a close affiliate, the Doux Group, at prices well below market value, a lawyer representing the bondholders said on Tuesday. Enterprises strongly rejects the accusation. «Bondholders allege that the sales to Doux… seriously undervalued the value of ship assets… resulting in a loss to them of over $12 million,» said a statement from the bondholders. Enterprises Chief Financial Officer Costas Koutsoubelis told Reuters: «These are big words. They had better have some proof. Those allegations are just excuses to create issues and harassment of the directors.» He said the four ships had been sold according to proper market valuations at the time. He added that Enterprises had suffered severe financial damage after the bondholders impounded three of its other ships – the Panthermax, Ocelotmax and Lionmax – in ports in Canada and South Korea. «By arresting these ships, they’ve cost the company about $20 million in lost income and value,» he said. «Three one-year charters have been lost at rates almost three times higher than what they are today.» The bondholders also said that they had issued a writ in the commercial court of Quimper, France against the Enterprises affiliate that bought the ships, the Doux Group. Doux Group spokesman Rene Dulong declined to comment on the issue. Koutsoubelis said the two companies had a longstanding business relationship, but he was unsure if the Doux Group had bought the four ships. «The buyers were two French companies and the shareholders in those two companies will fight, I am sure. But we don’t know who was the buyer… we just spoke to the broker and lawyers,» he said. The bondholders are largely US-based investment funds, while Enterprises is controlled by Greek shipping entrepreneur Victor Restis and is incorporated in Liberia.