Company Quick10K Filing
Genco Shipping & Trading
Closing Price ($) Shares Out (MM) Market Cap ($MM)
$0.00 42 $342
10-K 2020-02-27 Annual: 2019-12-31
10-Q 2019-11-07 Quarter: 2019-09-30
10-Q 2019-08-09 Quarter: 2019-06-30
10-Q 2019-05-09 Quarter: 2019-03-31
10-K 2019-03-05 Annual: 2018-12-31
10-Q 2018-11-07 Quarter: 2018-09-30
10-Q 2018-08-08 Quarter: 2018-06-30
10-Q 2018-05-09 Quarter: 2018-03-31
10-K 2018-02-28 Annual: 2017-12-31
10-Q 2017-11-07 Quarter: 2017-09-30
10-Q 2017-08-10 Quarter: 2017-06-30
10-Q 2017-05-11 Quarter: 2017-03-31
10-K 2017-03-28 Annual: 2016-12-31
10-Q 2016-11-04 Quarter: 2016-09-30
10-Q 2016-08-09 Quarter: 2016-06-30
10-Q 2016-05-10 Quarter: 2016-03-31
10-K 2016-03-15 Annual: 2015-12-31
10-Q 2015-11-13 Quarter: 2015-09-30
10-Q 2015-08-10 Quarter: 2015-06-30
10-Q 2015-05-08 Quarter: 2015-03-31
10-K 2015-03-02 Annual: 2014-12-31
10-Q 2014-11-17 Quarter: 2014-09-30
10-Q 2014-08-15 Quarter: 2014-06-30
10-Q 2014-05-19 Quarter: 2014-03-31
10-K 2014-04-07 Annual: 2013-12-31
10-Q 2013-11-08 Quarter: 2013-09-30
10-Q 2013-08-09 Quarter: 2013-06-30
10-Q 2013-05-10 Quarter: 2013-03-31
10-K 2013-03-01 Annual: 2012-12-31
10-Q 2012-11-09 Quarter: 2012-09-30
10-Q 2012-08-09 Quarter: 2012-06-30
10-Q 2012-05-10 Quarter: 2012-03-31
10-Q 2011-11-09 Quarter: 2011-09-30
10-Q 2011-07-26 Quarter: 2011-06-30
10-Q 2011-05-10 Quarter: 2011-03-31
10-K 2011-03-10 Annual: 2010-12-31
10-Q 2010-11-09 Quarter: 2010-09-30
10-Q 2010-08-09 Quarter: 2010-06-30
10-Q 2010-05-10 Quarter: 2010-03-31
10-K 2010-03-01 Annual: 2009-12-31
8-K 2020-03-17 Officers
8-K 2020-02-25 Earnings, Other Events, Exhibits
8-K 2020-01-29 Earnings, Exhibits
8-K 2019-11-06 Earnings, Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2019-10-25 Earnings
8-K 2019-08-07 Earnings, Exhibits
8-K 2019-05-15 Shareholder Vote
8-K 2019-05-08 Earnings, Exhibits
8-K 2019-03-05 Earnings, Exhibits
8-K 2018-12-18 Officers, Regulation FD
8-K 2018-12-18 Officers, Regulation FD
8-K 2018-11-07 Earnings, Exhibits
8-K 2018-10-10 Regulation FD
8-K 2018-08-14 Enter Agreement, Off-BS Arrangement, Exhibits
8-K 2018-08-08 Earnings, Exhibits
8-K 2018-07-18 Other Events
8-K 2018-06-15 Enter Agreement, Exhibits
8-K 2018-06-14 Other Events, Exhibits
8-K 2018-05-31 Enter Agreement, Off-BS Arrangement, Amend Bylaw, Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2018-05-15 Shareholder Vote
8-K 2018-05-08 Earnings, Exhibits
8-K 2018-04-05 Officers
8-K 2018-03-26 Officers
8-K 2018-02-27 Earnings, Exhibits
GNK 2019-12-31
Part I
Item 1. Business
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Item 5. Market for Registrant’S Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Purchases of Equity Securities
Part II
Item 6. Selected Consolidated Financial and Other Data
Item 7. Management’S Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
Item 9A. Controls and Procedures
Part III
Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Item 11. Executive Compensation
Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
Item 14. Principal Accountant Fees and Services
Part IV
Item 15. Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules
EX-4.3 gnk-20191231ex43b8661a9.htm
EX-10.53 gnk-20191231ex10530a7b6.htm
EX-10.54 gnk-20191231ex1054fc79c.htm
EX-21.1 gnk-20191231ex21105ff9b.htm
EX-23.1 gnk-20191231ex2314452e0.htm
EX-31.1 gnk-20191231ex311cb4d7a.htm
EX-31.2 gnk-20191231ex3126f497b.htm
EX-32.1 gnk-20191231ex321afe755.htm
EX-32.2 gnk-20191231ex322bed789.htm

Genco Shipping & Trading Earnings 2019-12-31

GNK 10K Annual Report

Balance SheetIncome StatementCash Flow

Comparables ($MM TTM)
Ticker M Cap Assets Liab Rev G Profit Net Inc EBITDA EV G Margin EV/EBITDA ROA
SALT 399 1,704 843 100 0 -324 -324 1,098 0% -3.4 -19%
MCFT 382 249 176 466 113 21 45 490 24% 10.9 9%
GNK 342 1,564 552 381 0 -18 87 691 0% 7.9 -1%
TK 337 8,392 5,525 0 0 0 0 3,195 0%
SMHI 335 1,077 565 262 83 -77 17 708 32% 42.9 -7%
DSX 330 1,188 560 0 0 0 0 713 0%
EGLE 327 864 388 303 0 3 68 602 0% 8.9 0%
NAT 288 1,071 469 0 0 0 0 675 0%
TNK 252 2,161 1,214 0 0 0 0 934 0%
TNP 230 3,205 1,710 0 0 0 0 1,617 0%

10-K 1 gnk-20191231x10k.htm 10-K gnk_Current folio_10K

ce

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K

Annual Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019

or

Transition Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934

For the transition period from           to         

Commission file number 001-33393

 

GENCO SHIPPING & TRADING LIMITED

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Republic of the Marshall Islands

 

98-043-9758

State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization

 

(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)

299 Park Avenue, 12th Floor, New York, New York

 

10171

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

 (Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (646) 443-8550

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

Trading Symbol(s)

Name of each exchange on which registered

 

Common Stock, par value $.01 per share

 

GNK

New York Stock Exchange

 

 

       Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☐ No 

Indicated by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes ☐ No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports) and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ No ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ☒ No ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company.  See the definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

 

 

Large accelerated filer ☐

 

Accelerated filer ☒

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer  ☐

 

Smaller reporting company ☒

 

 

Emerging growth company ☐

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐ 

Indicate by check mark whether registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes ☐ No ☒

The aggregate market value of the registrant’s voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant on the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, computed by reference to the last sale price of such stock of $8.44 per share as of June 28, 2019 was approximately $129.6 million.  The registrant has no non-voting common equity issued and outstanding.  The determination of affiliate status for purposes of this paragraph is not necessarily a conclusive determination for any other purpose.

The number of shares outstanding of the registrant's common stock as of February 27, 2020 was 41,754,413 shares.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of our Proxy Statement for the 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission not later than 120 days after December 31, 2019, are incorporated by reference in Part III herein.

 

 

Website Information

 

We intend to use our website, www.GencoShipping.com, as a means of disclosing material non-public information and for complying with our disclosure obligations under Regulation FD. Such disclosures will be included in our website’s Investor section. Accordingly, investors should monitor the Investor portion of our website, in addition to following our press releases, SEC filings, public conference calls, and webcasts. To subscribe to our e-mail alert service, please submit your e-mail address at the Investor Relations Home page of the Investor section of our website. The information contained in, or that may be accessed through, our website is not incorporated by reference into or a part of this document or any other report or document we file with or furnish to the SEC, and any references to our website are intended to be inactive textual references only.

 

 

i

 

PART I

 

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

 

OVERVIEW

 

General

 

We are a New York City-based company incorporated in the Marshall Islands in 2004.  We transport iron ore, coal, grain, steel products and other drybulk cargoes along worldwide shipping routes through the ownership and operation of drybulk carrier vessels.  Our fleet currently consists of 54 drybulk carriers, including 17 Capesize drybulk carriers, one Panamax drybulk carriers, six Ultramax drybulk carriers, 20 Supramax drybulk carriers, and 10 Handysize drybulk carriers, with an aggregate carrying capacity of approximately 4,914,000 deadweight tons (“dwt”).  The average age of our current fleet is approximately 9.7 years.  All of the vessels in our fleet were built in shipyards with reputations for constructing high-quality vessels.  Of the vessels in our fleet, 30 are currently on spot market voyage charters, 20 are on fixed-rate time charter contracts and we are currently time chartering-in five third party vessels. 

 

See pages 7 - 8 for a table of our current fleet.

 

In 2017, we began implementing initiatives to expand our commercial platform and more actively manage the employment of our vessels.  We hired commercial directors for our major bulk and minor bulk fleets and began employment of our vessels directly with cargo owners under cargo contracts.  To better capitalize on opportunities to employ our vessels, we expanded our global commercial presence with the establishment of new offices in Singapore and Copenhagen.  Additionally, we withdrew all of our vessels from their respective pools and reallocated our freight exposure to the Atlantic basin to seek to capture the earnings premium historically offered.  Overall, our fleet deployment strategy remains weighted towards short-term fixtures, which provide optionality in a potentially rising freight rate environment.  In addition to both short and long-term time charters, we fix our vessels on spot market voyage charters as well as spot market-related time charters depending on market conditions and management’s outlook.

 

Over the course of 2018, the United States imposed a series of tariffs on several goods imported from various countries. Certain of these countries, including China, undertook retaliatory actions by implementing tariffs on select U.S. products. Most notably in terms of drybulk trade volumes is China’s tariff placed upon U.S. soybean exports, which could adversely affect drybulk rates. To date, our observation of trade flows has been that China has increased its market share of Brazilian and Argentine soybeans, while a portion of U.S. shipments have been re-directed to other destinations such as Latin America and Europe.  With the signing of the “phase one” trade agreement between China and the U.S. in January 2020, China has agreed in principle to purchase meaningful quantities of soybeans from the U.S.  However, a re-escalation of protectionist measures taken between these countries or other could lead to reduced volumes of drybulk trade.

 

In 2017, we began a fleet renewal program to modernize our fleet by replacing older vessels with newer vessels having greater fuel efficiency and other improved specifications.  Please see below under “Vessel Sales” and “Vessel Acquisitions” for further details. We have determined to expand our previously announced fleet renewal plan aimed at modernizing our fleet.  In addition to the fifteen original vessel designated to be sold under the plan, we have determined to pursue the sale of ten Handysize vessels that were not already part of the plan and are viewed as non-core vessels within our fleet.  Given this decision, as the estimated future undiscounted cash flows for each of these vessels did not exceed their net book values, we will be adjusting the values of these ten vessels to their respective market values during the first quarter of 2020.  We therefore anticipate a non-cash impairment charge in the range of $79 million to $85 million in the first quarter of 2020.  

 

We report financial information and evaluate our operations by charter revenues and not by the length of ship employment for our customers, i.e., spot or time charters.  Each of our vessels serves the same type of customer, has similar operations and maintenance requirements, operates in the same regulatory environment, and is subject to similar economic characteristics. Based on this, we have determined that we operate in one reportable segment in which we are

1

engaged in the ocean transportation of drybulk cargoes worldwide through the ownership and operation of drybulk carrier vessels. 

 

Our management team and our other employees are responsible for the commercial and strategic management of our fleet.  Commercial management includes the negotiation of employment for vessels, managing the mix of various types of employment, such as time charters, spot market voyage charters and spot market-related time charters, and monitoring the performance of our vessels under their employment.  Strategic management includes locating, purchasing, financing and selling vessels.  We currently contract with two independent technical managers to provide technical management of our fleet at a lower cost than we believe would be possible in-house.  Technical management involves the day-to-day management of vessels, including performing routine maintenance, attending to vessel operations and arranging for crews and supplies.  Members of our New York City-based management team oversee the activities of our independent technical managers.

 

Scrubbers

 

On October 27, 2016, the Marine Environment Protection Committee (“MEPC”) announced the ratification of regulations mandating reduction in sulfur emissions from 3.5% currently to 0.5% as of the beginning of 2020 rather than pushing the deadline back to 2025. Accordingly, ships now have to reduce sulfur emissions, for which the principal solutions are the use of exhaust gas cleaning systems (“scrubbers”) or buying fuel with low sulfur content. If a vessel is not retrofitted with a scrubber, it will need to use low sulfur fuel, which is currently more expensive than standard marine fuel containing 3.5% sulfur content.  This increased demand for low sulfur fuel has resulted in an increase in prices for such fuel and may result in additional increases. 

 

We have installed scrubbers on our 17 Capesize vessels, 16 of which were completed during 2019 and one of which was completed in January 2020.  The remainder of our fleet has begun consuming compliant, low sulfur fuel beginning in 2020, although we intend to continue to evaluate other options.  During the course of 2018, we sold seven of our older, less fuel efficient vessels and purchased six modern high specification vessels with a goal of improving fuel consumption and further reduce emissions.  We also sold four additional vessels during the course of 2019 as well as one vessel during February 2020 and will continue to seek opportunities to renew our fleet going forward.    

 

Vessel Sales

 

During 2019, we completed the sale of four vessels, one of which was classified as held for sale as of December 31, 2018.  During 2018, we completed the sale of seven vessels that were part of our previously announced fleet renewal program. 

 

Vessel Acquisitions

 

On July 12, 2018, we entered into agreements to purchase two modern, high specification Capesize drybulk vessels for an aggregate purchase price of $98.0 million.  These vessels were renamed the Genco Defender and the Genco Liberty (both 2016-built Capesize vessels) and were delivered during the third quarter of 2018.  We utilized a combination of cash on hand and proceeds from the $108 Million Credit Facility as described below under “Credit Facilities.”

 

On June 6, 2018, we entered into an agreement for the en bloc purchase of four drybulk vessels, including two Capesize drybulk vessels and two Ultramax drybulk vessels for approximately $141.0 million.  Each vessel was built with a fuel-saving “eco” engine.  These vessels were renamed the Genco Weatherly (2014-built Ultramax vessel), the Genco Columbia (2016-built Ultramax vessel), the Genco Endeavour (2015-built Capesize vessel) and the Genco Resolute (2015-built Capesize vessel) and were delivered during the third quarter of 2018. The Company utilized a combination of cash on hand and proceeds from the $108 Million Credit Facility as described below under “Credit Facilities.”

Credit Facilities

 

2

On May 31, 2018, we entered into a five-year $460 million senior secured credit facility.   On June 5, 2018, proceeds of $460.0 million from this facility were used, together with cash on hand, to refinance all of our prior credit facilities (the $400 Million Credit Facility, the $98 Million Credit Facility and the 2014 Term Loan Facilities as defined in Note 7 – Debt of our Consolidated Financial Statements) into one facility, and pay down the debt of seven of the Company’s oldest vessels, which have been identified for sale. The mandated lead arrangers and bookrunners for this facility are Nordea Bank AB (publ), New York Branch (“Nordea”), Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB (publ), ABN AMRO Capital USA LLC, DVB Bank SE, Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank, and Danish Ship Finance A/S. 

 

On February 28, 2019, we entered into an Amendment and Restatement Agreement for this facility (the “$495 Million Credit Facility”) to provide an additional tranche of up to $35.0 million to cover a portion of the expenses related to the acquisition and installation of scrubbers on our 17 Capesize vessels.  Borrowings under the $35.0 million tranche will bear interest at LIBOR plus 2.50% through September 30, 2019 and LIBOR plus a range of 2.25% to 2.75% thereafter, dependent on total net indebtedness to consolidated EBITDA for the preceding four calendar quarters.   Nordea, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB (publ), Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank and Danish Ship Finance A/S are the lenders for the additional tranche. 

 

On August 14, 2018, we entered into a five-year senior secured credit facility (the “$108 Million Credit Facility”) with Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank.  We have used proceeds from the $108 Million Credit Facility to finance a portion of the purchase price for the six vessels, as identified above under “Vessel Acquisitions,” which were delivered during the third quarter of 2018 and serve as collateral under the $108 Million Credit Facility.  

 

Equity Offering

 

On June 19, 2018, we closed an equity offering of 7,015,000 shares of common stock at an offering price of $16.50 per share.  We received net proceeds of approximately $109.6 million after deducting underwriters’ discounts and commissions and other expenses.  We used the net proceeds to finance a portion of the purchase price for the two Capesize and two Ultramax vessels that we acquired during the third quarter of 2018 as identified above under “Vessel Acquisitions.”   

 

AVAILABLE INFORMATION

 

We file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements, and other documents with the SEC, under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, or the Exchange Act.  The SEC maintains an Internet website that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers, including us, that file electronically with the SEC.  The public can obtain any documents that we file with the SEC at www.sec.gov.

 

In addition, our company website can be found on the Internet at www.gencoshipping.com.  The website contains information about us and our operations.  Copies of each of our filings with the SEC on Form 10-K, Form 10-Q and Form 8-K, and all amendments to those reports, can be viewed and downloaded free of charge after the reports and amendments are electronically filed with or furnished to the SEC.  To view the reports, access www.gencoshipping.com, click on Investor, then SEC Filings.  No information on our company website is incorporated by reference into this annual report on Form 10-K.

 

Any of the above documents can also be obtained in print by any shareholder upon request to our Investor Relations Department at the following address:

 

Corporate Investor Relations

Genco Shipping & Trading Limited

299 Park Avenue, 12th Floor

New York, NY 10171

3

 

BUSINESS STRATEGY

 

Our strategy is to manage and expand our fleet in a manner that maximizes our cash flows from operations.  To accomplish this objective, we intend to:

 

·

Continue to operate a high-quality fleet — We intend to maintain a modern, high-quality fleet that meets or exceeds stringent industry standards and complies with charterer requirements through our technical managers’ rigorous and comprehensive maintenance program.  In addition, our technical managers maintain the quality of our vessels by carrying out regular inspections, both while in port and at sea.

 

·

Utilize an active commercial strategy — Our current fleet of 54 drybulk vessels concentrates on the transportation of major and minor bulk commodities globally.  Historically, Genco has employed its fleet mostly through time charter contracts as well as pooling arrangements.  In 2017, the Company made a strategic decision to augment its existing in-house commercial operating platform shifting to an active commercial approach as compared to the previous tonnage provider model in order to improve margins and grow our network of customers.  We expanded our presence globally with the establishment of offices in Singapore and Copenhagen in addition to our corporate headquarters in New York.  As a result of this strategic shift, we have been fixing an increasing number of vessels on spot market voyage charters, where we provide a vessel for the transportation of goods between a load port and discharge port at a specified per-ton or on a lump sum basis, as well as on contracts of affreightment directly with cargo providers.   We believe that our active platform provides added flexibility to changing market conditions and improves operational efficiencies within our owned fleet.  Furthermore, we also assess arbitrage opportunities on cargoes through utilizing vessel positions by time chartering-in third party vessels and/or reletting cargo commitments on a voyage basis. In addition to these options, we continue to fix our vessels on both short and medium-term time charters, as well as spot market-related time charters, depending on market conditions and outlook.  Overall, our fleet deployment strategy is currently weighted towards short-term fixtures which provide optionality for the Company.  We continuously monitor the drybulk market and may in the future pursue other market opportunities for our vessels to capitalize on market conditions, including arranging longer charter periods and entering into vessel pools.

 

·

Strategically expand the size of our fleet — We may acquire additional modern, high-quality, fuel-efficient drybulk vessels through timely and selective acquisitions in a manner that is accretive to our cash flows.  If we make such acquisitions, we may consider additional debt or equity financing alternatives.

 

·

Maintain low-cost, highly efficient operations — We currently outsource technical management of our fleet to Wallem Shipmanagement Limited (“Wallem”) and Anglo-Eastern Group (“Anglo”), third party independent technical managers.  Our management team actively monitors and controls vessel operating expenses incurred by the independent technical managers by overseeing their activities.  We also seek to maintain low-cost, highly efficient operations by capitalizing on the cost savings and economies of scale that result from operating sister ships. In the future, we may explore opportunities to outsource to other third party independent technical managers, as well as providing in-house technical management for our vessels.

 

·

Capitalize on our management team’s reputation — We seek to capitalize on our management team’s reputation for high standards of performance, reliability and safety, and maintain strong relationships with major international charterers and cargo providers, many of whom consider the reputation of a vessel owner and operator when entering into time charters.  We believe that our management team’s track record improves our relationships with high quality shipyards and vendors, as well as financial institutions, many of which consider reputation to be an indicator of creditworthiness.

4

 

OUR FLEET

 

The table below summarizes the characteristics of our vessels that have been delivered to us that are currently in our fleet:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vessel

    

Class

    

Dwt

    

Year Built

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genco Augustus

 

Capesize

 

180,151

 

2007

 

Genco Claudius

 

Capesize

 

169,001

 

2010

 

Genco Constantine

 

Capesize

 

180,183

 

2008

 

Genco Commodus

 

Capesize

 

169,098

 

2009

 

Genco Hadrian

 

Capesize

 

169,025

 

2008

 

Genco London

 

Capesize

 

177,833

 

2007

 

Genco Maximus

 

Capesize

 

169,025

 

2009

 

Genco Tiberius

 

Capesize

 

175,874

 

2007

 

Genco Tiger

 

Capesize

 

179,185

 

2011

 

Genco Titus

 

Capesize

 

177,729

 

2007

 

Baltic Bear

 

Capesize

 

177,717

 

2010

 

Baltic Lion

 

Capesize

 

179,185

 

2012

 

Baltic Wolf

 

Capesize

 

177,752

 

2010

 

Genco Endeavour

 

Capesize

 

181,060

 

2015

 

Genco Resolute

 

Capesize

 

181,060

 

2015

 

Genco Defender

 

Capesize

 

180,021

 

2016

 

Genco Liberty

 

Capesize

 

180,032

 

2016

 

Genco Thunder

 

Panamax

 

76,588

 

2007

 

Baltic Hornet

 

Ultramax

 

63,574

 

2014

 

Baltic Wasp

 

Ultramax

 

63,389

 

2015

 

Baltic Scorpion

 

Ultramax

 

63,462

 

2015

 

Baltic Mantis

 

Ultramax

 

63,470

 

2015

 

Genco Weatherly

 

Ultramax

 

61,556

 

2014

 

Genco Columbia

 

Ultramax

 

60,294

 

2016

 

Genco Aquitaine

 

Supramax

 

57,981

 

2009

 

Genco Ardennes

 

Supramax

 

58,018

 

2009

 

Genco Auvergne

 

Supramax

 

58,020

 

2009

 

Genco Bourgogne

 

Supramax

 

58,018

 

2010

 

Genco Brittany

 

Supramax

 

58,018

 

2010

 

Genco Hunter

 

Supramax

 

58,729

 

2007

 

Genco Languedoc

 

Supramax

 

58,018

 

2010

 

Genco Loire

 

Supramax

 

53,430

 

2009

 

Genco Lorraine

 

Supramax

 

53,417

 

2009

 

Genco Normandy

 

Supramax

 

53,596

 

2007

 

Genco Picardy

 

Supramax

 

55,257

 

2005

 

Genco Predator

 

Supramax

 

55,407

 

2005

 

Genco Provence

 

Supramax

 

55,317

 

2004

 

Genco Pyrenees

 

Supramax

 

58,018

 

2010

 

Genco Rhone

 

Supramax

 

58,018

 

2011

 

Genco Warrior

 

Supramax

 

55,435

 

2005

 

Baltic Cougar

 

Supramax

 

53,432

 

2009

 

Baltic Jaguar

 

Supramax

 

53,473

 

2009

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vessel

    

Class

    

Dwt

    

Year Built

 

Baltic Leopard

 

Supramax

 

53,446

 

2009

 

Baltic Panther

 

Supramax

 

53,350

 

2009

 

Genco Avra

 

Handysize

 

34,391

 

2011

 

Genco Bay

 

Handysize

 

34,296

 

2010

 

Genco Mare

 

Handysize

 

34,428

 

2011

 

Genco Ocean

 

Handysize

 

34,409

 

2010

 

Genco Spirit

 

Handysize

 

34,432

 

2011

 

Baltic Breeze

 

Handysize

 

34,386

 

2010

 

Baltic Cove

 

Handysize

 

34,403

 

2010

 

Baltic Fox

 

Handysize

 

31,883

 

2010

 

Baltic Hare

 

Handysize

 

31,887

 

2009

 

Baltic Wind

 

Handysize

 

34,408

 

2009

 

 

FLEET MANAGEMENT

 

Our management team and other employees are responsible for the commercial and strategic management of our fleet.  Commercial management involves negotiating charters for vessels, managing the mix of various types of charters, such as time charters, spot market voyage charters, vessel pools and spot market-related time charters, and monitoring the performance of our vessels under their charters.  Strategic management involves locating, purchasing, financing and selling vessels.

 

We utilize the services of reputable independent technical managers, Wallem and Anglo, for the technical management of our fleet.  Technical management involves the day-to-day management of vessels, including performing routine maintenance, attending to vessel operations and arranging for crews and supplies.  Members of our New York City-based management team oversee the activities of our independent technical managers.  The head of our technical management team has over 30 years of experience in the shipping industry.

 

Wallem, founded in 1971 and Anglo, founded in 1974, are among the largest ship management companies in the world.  These technical managers are known worldwide for their agency networks, covering all major ports in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore.  These technical managers provide services to over 850 vessels of all types, including Capesize, Panamax, Ultramax, Supramax, Handymax and Handysize drybulk carriers that meet strict quality standards.

 

Under our technical management agreements, our technical manager is obligated to:

 

·

provide personnel to supervise the maintenance and general efficiency of our vessels;

 

·

arrange and supervise the maintenance of our vessels to our standards to assure that our vessels comply with applicable national and international regulations and the requirements of our vessels’ classification societies;

 

·

select and train the crews for our vessels, including assuring that the crews have the correct certificates for the types of vessels on which they serve;

 

·

check the compliance of the crews’ licenses with the regulations of the vessels’ flag states and the International Maritime Organization, or IMO;

 

·

arrange the supply of spares and stores for our vessels; and

 

·

report expense transactions to us, and make its procurement and accounting systems available to us.

 

6

OUR CHARTERS

 

As of February 25, 2020, we employed 30 of our vessels on spot market voyage charters where we provide a vessel for the transportation of goods between a load port and discharge port at a specified per-ton or on a lump sum basis.  Under spot market voyage charters, voyage expenses such as fuel and port charges are borne by us.  Additionally, as of February 25, 2020, we employed 20 of our vessels under fixed-rate time charters.  A time charter involves the hiring of a vessel from its owner for a period of time pursuant to a contract under which the vessel owner places its ship (including its crew and equipment) at the disposal of the charterer.  Under a time charter, the charterer periodically pays a fixed daily charterhire rate to the owner of the vessel and bears all voyage expenses, including the cost of bunkers (fuel), port expenses, agents’ fees and canal dues.  Lastly, as of February 25, 2020, none of our vessels were fixed under spot market-related time charters.  Spot market-related time charters are time charters with rates based on published Baltic Indices.  These types of charters are similar to time charters with the exception of having a variable rate over the term of the time charter agreement.  As such, the revenue earned by these vessels is subject to the fluctuations of the spot market.  Additionally, as of February 25, 2020, we were chartering in five third party vessels.

 

Our vessels operate worldwide within the trading limits imposed by our insurance terms.  The technical operation and navigation of the vessel at all times remains the responsibility of the vessel owner, which is generally responsible for the vessel’s operating expenses, including the cost of crewing, insuring, repairing and maintaining the vessel, costs of spares and consumable stores, tonnage taxes and other miscellaneous expenses.

 

For the vessels that we employ on time charters and spot market-related time charters, agreements expire within a range of dates (for example, a minimum of 4 months and maximum of 6 months following delivery), with the exact end of the time charter left unspecified to account for the uncertainty of when a vessel will complete its final voyage under the time charter.  The charterer may extend the charter period by any time that the vessel is off-hire.  If a vessel remains off-hire for more than 30 consecutive days, the time charter may be cancelled at the charterer’s option.

 

In connection with the charter of each of our vessels, we incur commissions generally ranging from 1.25% to 6.25% of the total daily charterhire rate of each charter or total freight revenue to third parties, depending on the number of brokers involved with arranging the relevant charter.

 

We monitor developments in the drybulk shipping industry on a regular basis and strategically adjust the time and duration of employment for our vessels according to market conditions as they become available for hire.

 

The following table sets forth information about the current employment of the vessels in our fleet as of February 25, 2020: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Year

  

Charter

  

 

 

Vessel

    

Built

    

Expiration(1)

    

Cash Daily Rate(2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capesize Vessels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genco Augustus

 

2007

 

May 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Tiberius

 

2007

 

March 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco London

 

2007

 

March 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Titus

 

2007

 

April 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Constantine

 

2008

 

April 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Hadrian

 

2008

 

March 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Commodus

 

2009

 

March 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Maximus

 

2009

 

March 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Claudius

 

2010

 

March 2020

 

$9,500

 

Genco Tiger

 

2011

 

April 2020

 

Voyage

 

Baltic Lion

 

2012

 

April 2020

 

Voyage

 

Baltic Bear

 

2010

 

March 2020

 

Voyage

 

Baltic Wolf

 

2010

 

May 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Resolute

 

2015

 

March 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Endeavour

 

2015

 

April 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Defender

 

2016

 

February 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Liberty

 

2016

 

February 2020

 

Voyage

 

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Year

  

Charter

  

 

 

Vessel

    

Built

    

Expiration(1)

    

Cash Daily Rate(2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panamax Vessels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genco Thunder

 

2007

 

March 2020

 

$10,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ultramax Vessels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baltic Hornet

 

2014

 

May 2020

 

$1,150

 

Baltic Wasp

 

2015

 

February 2020

 

$7,100

 

Baltic Scorpion

 

2015

 

April 2020

 

Voyage

 

Baltic Mantis

 

2015

 

April 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Weatherly

 

2014

 

April 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Columbia

 

2016

 

April 2020

 

$6,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supramax Vessels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genco Predator

 

2005

 

May 2020

 

$17,500

 

Genco Warrior

 

2005

 

April 2020

 

$9,000

 

Genco Hunter

 

2007

 

March 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Lorraine

 

2009

 

March 2020

 

$9,500

 

Genco Loire

 

2009

 

March 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Aquitaine

 

2009

 

March 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Ardennes

 

2009

 

March 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Auvergne

 

2009

 

February 2020

 

$19,750

 

Genco Bourgogne

 

2010

 

March 2020

 

$8,050

 

Genco Brittany

 

2010

 

February 2020

 

$1,750

 

Genco Languedoc

 

2010

 

March 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Normandy

 

2007

 

February 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Picardy

 

2005

 

February 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Provence

 

2004

 

April 2020

 

$3,000

 

Genco Pyrenees

 

2010

 

March 2020

 

$4,000

 

Genco Rhone

 

2011

 

March 2020

 

Voyage

 

Baltic Leopard

 

2009

 

March 2020

 

$9,000

 

Baltic Panther

 

2009

 

March 2020

 

$11,250

 

Baltic Jaguar

 

2009

 

March 2020

 

Voyage

 

Baltic Cougar

 

2009

 

March 2020

 

Voyage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handysize Vessels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baltic Hare

 

2009

 

March 2020

 

$7,000

 

Baltic Fox

 

2010

 

April 2020

 

$3,000

 

Baltic Wind

 

2009

 

March 2020

 

$6,000

 

Baltic Cove

 

2010

 

March 2020

 

Voyage

 

Baltic Breeze

 

2010

 

February 2020

 

$6,000

 

Genco Ocean

 

2010

 

April 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Bay

 

2010

 

March 2020

 

Voyage

 

Genco Avra

 

2011

 

April 2020

 

$10,000

 

Genco Mare

 

2011

 

March 2020

 

$10,500

 

Genco Spirit

 

2011

 

April 2020

 

$10,500

 


(1)

The charter expiration dates presented represent the earliest dates that our charters may be terminated in the ordinary course. Under the terms of certain contracts, the charterer is entitled to extend the time charter from two to four months in order to complete the vessel's final voyage plus any time the vessel has been off-hire.

 

(2)

Time charter rates presented are the gross daily charterhire rates before third party brokerage commission generally ranging from 1.25% to 6.25%. In a time charter, the charterer is responsible for voyage expenses such as bunkers, port expenses, agents’ fees and canal dues.

 

CLASSIFICATION AND INSPECTION

 

All of our vessels have been certified as being “in class” by the American Bureau of Shipping (“ABS”), DNVGL or Lloyd’s Register of Shipping (“Lloyd’s”).  Each of these classification societies is a member of the

8

International Association of Classification Societies.  Every commercial vessel’s hull and machinery is evaluated by a classification society authorized by its country of registry.  The classification society certifies that the vessel has been built and maintained in accordance with the rules of the classification society and complies with applicable rules and regulations of the vessel’s country of registry and the international conventions of which that country is a member.  Each vessel is inspected by a surveyor of the classification society in three surveys of varying frequency and thoroughness: every year for the annual survey, every two to three years for the intermediate survey and every four to five years for special surveys.  Special surveys always require drydocking.  Vessels that are 15 years old or older are required, as part of the intermediate survey process, to be drydocked every 24 to 36 months for inspection of the underwater portions of the vessel and for necessary repairs stemming from the inspection.

 

In addition to the classification inspections, many of our customers regularly inspect our vessels as a precondition to chartering them for voyages.  We believe that our well-maintained, high-quality vessels provide us with a competitive advantage in the current environment of increasing regulation and customer emphasis on quality.

 

We have implemented the International Safety Management Code, which was promulgated by the International Maritime Organization, or IMO (the United Nations agency for maritime safety and the prevention of marine pollution by ships), to establish pollution prevention requirements applicable to vessels.  We obtained documents of compliance and safety management certificates for all of our vessels, which are required by the IMO.

 

CREWING AND EMPLOYEES

 

Each of our vessels is crewed with 21 to 24 officers and seamen.  We do not provide any seaborne personnel to crew our vessels.  Instead, our technical managers are responsible for locating and retaining qualified officers for our vessels.  The crewing agencies handle each seaman’s training, travel and payroll, and ensure that all the seamen on our vessels have the qualifications and licenses required to comply with international regulations and shipping conventions.  Our vessels are typically manned with more crew members than are required by the country of the vessel’s flag in order to allow for the performance of routine maintenance duties.

 

We currently employ approximately 40 shore-based personnel, including in our Singapore and Copenhagen offices.  In addition, approximately 1,215 seagoing personnel are employed on our vessels.

 

CUSTOMERS

 

Our assessment of a charterer’s financial condition and reliability is an important factor in negotiating employment for our vessels.  We generally charter our vessels to major trading houses (including commodities traders), major producers and government-owned entities rather than to more speculative or undercapitalized entities.  Our customers include national, regional and international companies, such as Rio Tinto Shipping (Asia) Pte. Ltd., Cargill International S.A., Gavilon Grain LLC, BHP, FMG International Pte Ltd, ADMIntermare, a division of ADM International Sarl, and Vale International S.A.  For the year ended December 31, 2019,  no customer accounted for more than 10% of our voyage revenue.  

 

COMPETITION

 

Our business fluctuates in line with the main patterns of trade of the major drybulk cargoes and varies according to changes in the supply and demand for these items.  We operate in markets that are highly competitive and based primarily on supply and demand.  We compete for charters on the basis of price, vessel location and size, age and condition of the vessel, as well as on our reputation as an owner and operator.  We compete with other owners of drybulk carriers in the Capesize, Panamax, Ultramax, Supramax and Handysize class sectors, some of whom may also charter our vessels as customers.  Ownership of drybulk carriers is highly fragmented and is divided among approximately 2,100 independent drybulk carrier owners.

 

9

PERMITS AND AUTHORIZATIONS

 

We are required by various governmental and quasi-governmental agencies to obtain certain permits, licenses, certificates and other authorizations with respect to our vessels.  The kinds of permits, licenses, certificates and other authorizations required for each vessel depend upon several factors, including the commodity transported, the waters in which the vessel operates, the nationality of the vessel’s crew and the age of the vessel.  We believe that we have all material permits, licenses, certificates and other authorizations necessary for the conduct of our operations.  However, additional laws and regulations, environmental or otherwise, may be adopted which could limit our ability to do business or increase the cost of our doing business.

 

INSURANCE

 

General

 

The operation of any drybulk vessel includes risks such as mechanical failure, collision, property loss, cargo loss or damage and business interruption due to political circumstances in foreign countries, piracy, hostilities and labor strikes.  In addition, there is always an inherent possibility of marine disaster, including oil spills and other environmental mishaps, and the liabilities arising from owning and operating vessels in international trade.  The United States (“U.S.”) Oil Pollution Act of 1990, or OPA, which imposes virtually unlimited liability upon owners, operators and demise charterers of vessels trading in the U.S.-exclusive economic zone for certain oil pollution accidents in the United States, has made liability insurance more expensive for ship owners and operators trading in the U.S. market.

 

While we maintain hull and machinery insurance, war risks insurance, protection and indemnity cover, and freight, demurrage and defense cover and loss of hire insurance for our fleet in amounts that we believe to be prudent to cover normal risks in our operations, we may not be able to achieve or maintain this level of coverage throughout a vessel’s useful life.  Furthermore, while we believe that our present insurance coverage is adequate, not all risks can be insured, and there can be no guarantee that any specific claim will be paid, or that we will always be able to obtain adequate insurance coverage at reasonable rates.  Additionally, an increase in cost, or unavailability, of insurance for our vessels, could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Hull and Machinery, War Risks, Kidnap and Ransom Insurance

 

We maintain marine hull and machinery, war risks and kidnap and ransom insurance, which cover the risk of actual or constructive total loss for all of our vessels.  Our vessels are each covered up to at least fair market value with deductibles, which depend primarily on the class of the insured vessel and are subject to change.  We are covered, subject to limitations in our policy, to have the crew released in the case of kidnapping due to piracy in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Guinea.

 

Protection and Indemnity Insurance

 

Protection and indemnity insurance is provided by mutual protection and indemnity associations, or P&I Associations, which insure our third party liabilities in connection with our shipping activities.  This includes third party liability and other related expenses resulting from the injury or death of crew, passengers and other third parties, the loss or damage to cargo, claims arising from collisions with other vessels, damage to other third party property, pollution arising from oil or other substances and salvage, towing and other related costs, including wreck removal.  Protection and indemnity insurance is a form of mutual indemnity insurance, extended by protection and indemnity mutual associations, or “clubs.” Subject to the “capping” discussed below, our coverage, except for pollution, is unlimited.

 

We maintain protection and indemnity insurance coverage for pollution of $1 billion per vessel per incident.  The 13 P&I Associations that comprise the International Group insure approximately 90% of the world’s commercial tonnage and have entered into a pooling agreement to reinsure each association’s liabilities.  The International Group’s website states that the pool provides a mechanism for sharing all claims in excess of $10 million up to, currently, approximately $8.2 billion.  We are a member of P&I Associations, which are members of the International Group. As a result, we are subject to calls payable to the associations based on the group’s claim records as

10

well as the claim records of all other members of the individual associations and members of the pool of P&I Associations comprising the International Group.

 

Loss of Hire Insurance

 

We maintain loss of hire insurance, which covers business interruptions and related losses that result from the loss of use of a vessel.  Our loss of hire insurance has a 14-day deductible and provides claim coverage for up to 90 days.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL AND OTHER REGULATIONS 

Government regulation and laws significantly affect the ownership and operation of our fleet. We are subject to international conventions and treaties, national, state and local laws and regulations in force in the countries in which our vessels may operate or are registered relating to safety and health and environmental protection including the storage, handling, emission, transportation and discharge of hazardous and non-hazardous materials, and the remediation of contamination and liability for damage to natural resources. Compliance with such laws, regulations and other requirements entails significant expense, including vessel modifications, procurement of specialized fuels and implementation of certain operating procedures.

A variety of government and private entities subject our vessels to both scheduled and unscheduled inspections. These entities include the local port authorities (applicable national authorities such as the United States Coast Guard (“USCG”), harbor master or equivalent), classification societies, flag state administrations (countries of registry) and charterers, particularly terminal operators. Certain of these entities require us to obtain permits, licenses, certificates and other authorizations for the operation of our vessels. Failure to maintain necessary permits or approvals could require us to incur substantial costs or result in the temporary suspension of the operation of one or more of our vessels.

Increasing environmental concerns have created a demand for vessels that conform to stricter environmental standards. We are required to maintain operating standards for all of our vessels that emphasize operational safety, quality maintenance, continuous training of our officers and crews and compliance with United States and international regulations. We believe that the operation of our vessels is in substantial compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations and that our vessels have all material permits, licenses, certificates or other authorizations necessary for the conduct of our operations. However, because such laws and regulations frequently change and may impose increasingly stricter requirements, we cannot predict our ability to comply and the ultimate cost of complying with these requirements, or the impact of these requirements on the resale value or useful lives of our vessels. In addition, a future serious marine incident that causes significant adverse environmental impact could result in additional legislation or regulation that could negatively affect our profitability.

As one of the largest drybulk shipping companies in the world, we recognize the need to operate a safe, responsible and sustainable business built for the long term.  We regularly integrate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices into our operational and strategic decision making. As such, we aim to meet and, if possible and appropriate for our business, exceed minimum compliance levels set forth in rules and regulations governing the maritime industry, including certain rules and regulations described below.

 Over the last several years, we have taken various steps to reduce our carbon footprint and improve the environment, including through investments made to our fleet. Specifically, we have:

·

Purchased modern, fuel-efficient vessels with lower overall fuel consumption than older vessels in order to reduce our fleet’s greenhouse gas emissions;

·

Divested of certain older, less fuel-efficient vessels

·

Installed fuel-saving equipment on board 30 of our vessels, including the installation of Mewis Ducts on 19 of our vessels to reduce the fuel consumption of these vessels;

·

Installed performance-monitoring systems on board 30 of our vessels to gather real-time fuel consumption data to optimize the voyage efficiency of these vessels;

11

·

Utilized a third-party data collection platform that analyzes information from our vessels in an effort to reduce fuel consumption, CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions;

·

Established and executed a compliance program regarding IMO 2020 fuel regulations (as described below);

·

Ballast water treatment systems are installed in 28 vessels in our fleet, representing approximately 52% of our current fleet; and

·

Partnered with a third-party firm to conduct internal audits of our vessels with a goal of identifying areas of potential improvement on the daily maintenance and operation of our vessels in order to improve the quality of the services our vessels provide and to mitigate operational risks.

·

Installation of Engine Power Limitation (EPL) systems on certain major bulk vessels to increase the level of energy efficiency by ensuring the ship’s engine power is maintained within optimal levels.

International Maritime Organization (IMO)

The International Maritime Organization, the United Nations agency for maritime safety and the prevention of pollution by vessels (the “IMO”), has adopted the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto, collectively referred to as MARPOL 73/78 and herein as “MARPOL,” the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea of 1974 (“SOLAS Convention”), and the International Convention on Load Lines of 1966 (the “LL Convention”). MARPOL establishes environmental standards relating to oil leakage or spilling, garbage management, sewage, air emissions, handling and disposal of noxious liquids and the handling of harmful substances in packaged forms.  MARPOL is applicable to drybulk, tanker and LNG carriers, among other vessels, and is broken into six Annexes, each of which regulates a different source of pollution. Annex I relates to oil leakage or spilling; Annexes II and III relate to harmful substances carried in bulk in liquid or in packaged form, respectively; Annexes IV and V relate to sewage and garbage management, respectively; and Annex VI, lastly, relates to air emissions. Annex VI was separately adopted by the IMO in September of 1997; new emissions standards, titled IMO-2020, took effect on January 1, 2020.

In 2013, the IMO’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee, or the “MEPC,” adopted a resolution amending MARPOL Annex I Condition Assessment Scheme, or “CAS.” These amendments became effective on October 1, 2014, and require compliance with the 2011 International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers, or “ESP Code,” which provides for enhanced inspection programs. We may need to make certain financial expenditures to comply with these amendments, which could be significant.

Air Emissions

In September of 1997, the IMO adopted Annex VI to MARPOL to address air pollution from vessels. Effective May 2005, Annex VI sets limits on sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from all commercial vessel exhausts and prohibits “deliberate emissions” of ozone depleting substances (such as halons and chlorofluorocarbons), emissions of volatile compounds from cargo tanks, and the shipboard incineration of specific substances. Annex VI also includes a global cap on the sulfur content of fuel oil and allows for special areas to be established with more stringent controls on sulfur emissions, as explained below.  Emissions of “volatile organic compounds” from certain vessels, and the shipboard incineration (from incinerators installed after January 1, 2000) of certain substances (such as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs) are also prohibited.  We believe that all our vessels are currently compliant in all material respects with these regulations.

The MEPC adopted amendments to Annex VI regarding emissions of sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter and ozone depleting substances, which entered into force on July 1, 2010.  The amended Annex VI seeks to further reduce air pollution by, among other things, implementing a progressive reduction of the amount of sulfur contained in any fuel oil used on board ships. On October 27, 2016, at its 70th session, the MEPC agreed to implement a global 0.5% m/m sulfur oxide emissions limit (reduced from 3.50%) starting from January 1, 2020.  This limitation can be met by using low-sulfur compliant fuel oil, alternative fuels, or certain exhaust gas cleaning systems.  Ships are now required to obtain bunker delivery notes and International Air Pollution Prevention (“IAPP”) Certificates from their flag states that specify sulfur content.  Additionally, at MEPC 73, amendments to Annex VI to prohibit the carriage of bunkers above 0.5% Sulphur on ships were adopted and will take effect March 1, 2020, with the exception of vessels

12

fitted with exhaust gas cleaning equipment (“scrubbers”) which can carry fuel of higher sulfur content.  These regulations subject ocean-going vessels to stringent emissions controls, and may cause us to incur substantial costs, including those related to the purchase, installation and operation of scrubbers and the purchase of compliant fuel oil.

Sulfur content standards are even stricter within certain “Emission Control Areas,” or (“ECAs”). As of January 1, 2015, ships operating within an ECA were not permitted to use fuel with sulfur content in excess of 0.1% m/m. Amended Annex VI establishes procedures for designating new ECAs. Currently, the IMO has designated four ECAs, including specified portions of the Baltic Sea area, North Sea area, North American area and United States Caribbean area.  Ocean-going vessels in these areas will be subject to stringent emission controls and may cause us to incur additional costs. Certain ports in which our vessels call, including China and Singapore, are currently or may become subject to local regulations that impose stricter emission controls.  If other ECAs are approved by the IMO, or other new or more stringent requirements relating to emissions from marine diesel engines or port operations by vessels are adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) or the states where we operate, compliance with these regulations could entail significant capital expenditures or otherwise increase the costs of our operations.  Refer to “Capital Expenditures” in Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and “We are subject to regulation and liability under environmental and operational safety laws that could require significant expenditures and affect our cash flows and net income and could subject us to increased liability under applicable law or regulation” in Item 1A. Risk Factors for further details of our plan for compliance and potential costs.

Amended Annex VI also establishes new tiers of stringent nitrogen oxide emissions standards for marine diesel engines, depending on their date of installation. At the MEPC meeting held from March to April 2014, amendments to Annex VI were adopted which address the date on which Tier III Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) standards in ECAs will go into effect.  Under the amendments, Tier III NOx standards apply to ships that operate in the North American and U.S. Caribbean Sea ECAs designed for the control of NOx produced by vessels with a marine diesel engine installed and constructed on or after January 1, 2016.  Tier III requirements could apply to areas that will be designated for Tier III NOx in the future. At MEPC 70 and MEPC 71, the MEPC approved the North Sea and Baltic Sea as ECAs for nitrogen oxide for ships built after January 1, 2021. The EPA promulgated equivalent (and in some senses stricter) emissions standards in 2010 and we are compliant with the Tier I and Tier II requirements for NOx emissions under the EPA standards and Annex VI.  We do not currently own any vessels subject to the Tier III requirements, although we may acquire such vessels in the future.  As a result of these designations or similar future designations, we may be required to incur additional operating or other costs.

As determined at the MEPC 70, the new Regulation 22A of MARPOL Annex VI became effective as of March 1, 2018 and requires ships above 5,000 gross tonnage to collect and report annual data on fuel oil consumption to an IMO database, with the first year of data collection commencing on January 1, 2019.  The IMO intends to use such data as the first step in its roadmap (through 2023) for developing its strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships, as discussed further below.

As of January 1, 2013, MARPOL made mandatory certain measures relating to energy efficiency for ships. All ships are now required to develop and implement Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plans (“SEEMPS”), and new ships must be designed in compliance with minimum energy efficiency levels per capacity mile as defined by the Energy Efficiency Design Index (“EEDI”).  Under these measures, by 2025, all new ships built will be 30% more energy efficient than those built in 2014.

We may incur costs to comply with these revised standards. Additional or new conventions, laws and regulations may be adopted that could require the installation of expensive emission control systems and could adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition.

 

Safety Management System Requirements

The SOLAS Convention was amended to address the safe manning of vessels and emergency training drills.  The Convention of Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (the “LLMC”) sets limitations of liability for a

13

loss of life or personal injury claim or a property claim against ship owners. We believe that our vessels are in substantial compliance with SOLAS and LLMC standards.

Under Chapter IX of the SOLAS Convention, or the International Safety Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention (the “ISM Code”), our operations are also subject to environmental standards and requirements. The ISM Code requires the party with operational control of a vessel to develop an extensive safety management system that includes, among other things, the adoption of a safety and environmental protection policy setting forth instructions and procedures for operating its vessels safely and describing procedures for responding to emergencies. We rely upon the safety management system that we and our technical management team have developed for compliance with the ISM Code. The failure of a vessel owner or bareboat charterer to comply with the ISM Code may subject such party to increased liability, may decrease available insurance coverage for the affected vessels and may result in a denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports.

The ISM Code requires that vessel operators obtain a safety management certificate for each vessel they operate. This certificate evidences compliance by a vessel’s management with the ISM Code requirements for a safety management system. No vessel can obtain a safety management certificate unless its manager has been awarded a document of compliance, issued by each flag state, under the ISM Code. Our technical managers have valid documents of compliance for our offices and safety management certificates for all of our vessels for which the certificates are required by the IMO. The document of compliance and safety management certificate are renewed as required.

Amendments to the SOLAS Convention Chapter VII apply to vessels transporting dangerous goods and require those vessels be in compliance with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (“IMDG Code”). Effective January 1, 2018, the IMDG Code includes (1) updates to the provisions for radioactive material, reflecting the latest provisions from the International Atomic Energy Agency, (2) new marking, packing and classification requirements for dangerous goods, and (3) new mandatory training requirements.  Amendments that took effect on January 1, 2020, also reflect the latest material from the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, including (1) new provision regarding IMO type 9 tank, (2) new abbreviations for segregations groups, and (3) special provisions for carriage of lithium batteries and of vehicles powered by flammable liquid or gas.

The IMO has also adopted the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (“STCW”).  As of February 2017, all seafarers are required to meet the STCW standards and be in possession of a valid STCW certificate.  Flag states that have ratified SOLAS and STCW generally employ the classification societies, which have incorporated SOLAS and STCW requirements into their class rules, to undertake surveys to confirm compliance.

The IMO's Maritime Safety Committee and MEPC, respectively, each adopted relevant parts of the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Water (the “Polar Code”). The Polar Code, which entered into force on January 1, 2017, covers design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue as well as environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in the waters surrounding the two poles. It also includes mandatory measures regarding safety and pollution prevention as well as recommendatory provisions.  The Polar Code applies to new ships constructed after January 1, 2017, and after January 1, 2018, ships constructed before January 1, 2017 are required to meet the relevant requirements by the earlier of their first intermediate or renewal survey.

Furthermore, recent action by the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee and United States agencies indicates that cybersecurity regulations for the maritime industry are likely to be further developed in the near future in an attempt to combat cybersecurity threats. For example, cyber-risk management systems must be incorporated by ship-owners and managers by 2021. This might cause companies to create additional procedures for monitoring cybersecurity, which could require additional expenses and/or capital expenditures.  The impact of such regulations is hard to predict at this time.

14

Pollution Control and Liability Requirements

The IMO has negotiated international conventions that impose liability for pollution in international waters and the territorial waters of the signatories to such conventions. For example, the IMO adopted an International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (the “BWM Convention”) in 2004. The BWM Convention entered into force on September 8, 2017.  The BWM Convention requires ships to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless, or avoid the uptake or discharge of new or invasive aquatic organisms and pathogens within ballast water and sediments.  The BWM Convention’s implementing regulations call for a phased introduction of mandatory ballast water exchange requirements, to be replaced in time with mandatory concentration limits, and require all ships to carry a ballast water record book and an international ballast water management certificate.  

On December 4, 2013, the IMO Assembly passed a resolution revising the application dates of BWM Convention so that the dates are triggered by the entry into force date and not the dates originally in the BWM Convention.  This, in effect, makes all vessels delivered before the entry into force date “existing vessels” and allows for the installation of ballast water management systems on such vessels at the first International Oil Pollution Prevention (IOPP) renewal survey following entry into force of the convention. The MEPC adopted updated guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems (G8) at MEPC 70. At MEPC 71, the schedule regarding the BWM Convention’s implementation dates was also discussed and amendments were introduced to extend the date existing vessels are subject to certain ballast water standards.  Those changes were adopted at MEPC 72.  Ships over 400 gross tons generally must comply with a “D-1 standard,” requiring the exchange of ballast water only in open seas and away from coastal waters.  The “D-2 standard” specifies the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged, and compliance dates vary depending on the IOPP renewal dates. Depending on the date of the IOPP renewal survey, existing vessels must comply with the D-2 standard on or after September 8, 2019. For most ships, compliance with the D-2 standard will involve installing on-board systems to treat ballast water and eliminate unwanted organisms.  Ballast water management systems, which include systems that make use of chemical, biocides, organisms or biological mechanisms, or which alter the chemical or physical characteristics of the ballast water, must be approved in accordance with IMO Guidelines (Regulation D-3).  As of October 13, 2019, MEPC 72’s amendments to the BWM Convention took effect, making the Code for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems, which governs assessment of ballast water management systems, mandatory rather than permissive, and formalized an implementation schedule for the D-2 standard.  Under these amendments, all ships must meet the D-2 standard by September 8, 2024.

Once mid-ocean ballast exchange ballast water treatment requirements become mandatory under the BWM Convention, the cost of compliance could increase for ocean carriers and may have a material effect on our operations. However, many countries already regulate the discharge of ballast water carried by vessels from country to country to prevent the introduction of invasive and harmful species via such discharges. The U.S., for example, requires vessels entering its waters from another country to conduct mid-ocean ballast exchange, or undertake some alternate measure, and to comply with certain reporting requirements.  The system specification requirements for trading in the U.S. have been formalized and we have been installing ballast water treatment systems on our vessels as their special survey deadlines come due.  These ballast water treatment systems range in cost from $0.5 million to $0.9 million each, primarily dependent on the size of the vessel.  Refer to “Capital Expenditures” section for further information.

The IMO adopted the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage of 1969, as amended by different Protocols in 1976, 1984, and 1992, and amended in 2000 (the “CLC”). Under the CLC and depending on whether the country in which the damage results is a party to the 1992 Protocol to the CLC, a vessel’s registered owner may be strictly liable for pollution damage caused in the territorial waters of a contracting state by discharge of persistent oil, subject to certain exceptions.  The 1992 Protocol changed certain limits on liability expressed using the International Monetary Fund currency unit, the Special Drawing Rights. The limits on liability have since been amended so that the compensation limits on liability were raised.  The right to limit liability is forfeited under the CLC where the spill is caused by the shipowner’s actual fault and under the 1992 Protocol where the spill is caused by the shipowner’s intentional or reckless act or omission where the shipowner knew pollution damage would probably result.  The CLC requires ships over 2,000 tons covered by it to maintain insurance covering the liability of the owner in a sum equivalent to an owner’s liability for a single incident. We have protection and indemnity insurance for environmental incidents.   P&I Clubs in the International Group issue the required Bunkers Convention “Blue Cards” to enable

15

signatory states to issue certificates. All of our vessels are in possession of a CLC State issued certificate attesting that the required insurance coverage is in force.

The IMO also adopted the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (the “Bunker Convention”) to impose strict liability on ship owners (including the registered owner, bareboat charterer, manager or operator) for pollution damage in jurisdictional waters of ratifying states caused by discharges of bunker fuel. The Bunker Convention requires registered owners of ships over 1,000 gross tons to maintain insurance for pollution damage in an amount equal to the limits of liability under the applicable national or international limitation regime (but not exceeding the amount calculated in accordance with the LLMC).  With respect to non-ratifying states, liability for spills or releases of oil carried as fuel in ship’s bunkers typically is determined by the national or other domestic laws in the jurisdiction where the events or damages occur. 

Ships are required to maintain a certificate attesting that they maintain adequate insurance to cover an incident. In jurisdictions, such as the United States where the CLC or the Bunker Convention has not been adopted, various legislative schemes or common law govern, and liability is imposed either on the basis of fault or on a strict-liability basis.

Anti-Fouling Requirements

 

In 2001, the IMO adopted the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti‑fouling Systems on Ships, or the “Anti‑fouling Convention.” The Anti‑fouling Convention, which entered into force on September 17, 2008, prohibits the use of organotin compound coatings to prevent the attachment of mollusks and other sea life to the hulls of vessels. The exteriors of vessels constructed prior to January 1, 2003 that have not been in drydock must, as of September 17, 2008, either not contain the prohibited compounds or have coatings applied to the vessel exterior that act as a barrier to the leaching of the prohibited compounds.  Vessels of over 400 gross tons engaged in international voyages will also be required to undergo an initial survey before the vessel is put into service or before an International Anti‑fouling System Certificate is issued for the first time; and subsequent surveys when the anti‑fouling systems are altered or replaced We have obtained Anti‑fouling System Certificates for all of our vessels that are subject to the Anti‑fouling Convention.

Compliance Enforcement

Noncompliance with the ISM Code or other IMO regulations may subject the ship owner or bareboat charterer to increased liability, may lead to decreases in available insurance coverage for affected vessels and may result in the denial of access to, or detention in, some ports. The USCG and European Union authorities have indicated that vessels not in compliance with the ISM Code by applicable deadlines will be prohibited from trading in U.S. and European Union ports, respectively.  As of the date of this report, each of our vessels is ISM Code certified. However, there can be no assurance that such certificates will be maintained in the future.  The IMO continues to review and introduce new regulations. It is impossible to predict what additional regulations, if any, may be passed by the IMO and what effect, if any, such regulations might have on our operations.

United States Regulations

The U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act

The U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (“OPA”) established an extensive regulatory and liability regime for the protection and cleanup of the environment from oil spills. OPA affects all “owners and operators” whose vessels trade or operate within the U.S., its territories and possessions or whose vessels operate in U.S. waters, which includes the U.S.’s territorial sea and its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone around the U.S.  The U.S. has also enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), which applies to the discharge of hazardous substances other than oil, except in limited circumstances, whether on land or at sea. OPA and CERCLA

16

both define “owner and operator” in the case of a vessel as any person owning, operating or chartering by demise, the vessel.  Both OPA and CERCLA impact our operations.

Under OPA, vessel owners and operators are “responsible parties” and are jointly, severally and strictly liable (unless the spill results solely from the act or omission of a third party, an act of God or an act of war) for all containment and clean-up costs and other damages arising from discharges or threatened discharges of oil from their vessels, including bunkers (fuel).  OPA defines these other damages broadly to include:

i.

injury to, destruction or loss of, or loss of use of, natural resources and related assessment costs;

ii.

injury to, or economic losses resulting from, the destruction of real and personal property;

iii.

loss of subsistence use of natural resources that are injured, destroyed or lost;

iv.

net loss of taxes, royalties, rents, fees or net profit revenues resulting from injury, destruction or loss of real or personal property, or natural resources;

v.

lost profits or impairment of earning capacity due to injury, destruction or loss of real or personal property or natural resources; and

vi.

net cost of increased or additional public services necessitated by removal activities following a discharge of oil, such as protection from fire, safety or health hazards, and loss of subsistence use of natural resources.

OPA contains statutory caps on liability and damages; such caps do not apply to direct cleanup costs.  Effective November 12, 2019, the USCG adjusted the limits of OPA liability for non-tank vessels, edible oil tank vessels, and any oil spill response vessels, to the greater of $1,200 per gross ton or $997,100 (subject to periodic adjustment for inflation). These limits of liability do not apply if an incident was proximately caused by the violation of an applicable U.S. federal safety, construction or operating regulation by a responsible party (or its agent, employee or a person acting pursuant to a contractual relationship), or a responsible party's gross negligence or willful misconduct. The limitation on liability similarly does not apply if the responsible party fails or refuses to (i) report the incident as required by law where the responsible party knows or has reason to know of the incident; (ii) reasonably cooperate and assist as requested in connection with oil removal activities; or (iii) without sufficient cause, comply with an order issued under the Federal Water Pollution Act (Section 311 (c), (e)) or the Intervention on the High Seas Act.

CERCLA contains a similar liability regime whereby owners and operators of vessels are liable for cleanup, removal and remedial costs, as well as damages for injury to, or destruction or loss of, natural resources, including the reasonable costs associated with assessing the same, and health assessments or health effects studies. There is no liability if the discharge of a hazardous substance results solely from the act or omission of a third party, an act of God or an act of war. Liability under CERCLA is limited to the greater of $300 per gross ton or $5.0 million for vessels carrying a hazardous substance as cargo and the greater of $300 per gross ton or $500,000 for any other vessel. These limits do not apply (rendering the responsible person liable for the total cost of response and damages) if the release or threat of release of a hazardous substance resulted from willful misconduct or negligence, or the primary cause of the release was a violation of applicable safety, construction or operating standards or regulations.  The limitation on liability also does not apply if the responsible person fails or refused to provide all reasonable cooperation and assistance as requested in connection with response activities where the vessel is subject to OPA.

OPA and CERCLA each preserve the right to recover damages under existing law, including maritime tort law.  OPA and CERCLA both require owners and operators of vessels to establish and maintain with the USCG evidence of financial responsibility sufficient to meet the maximum amount of liability to which the particular responsible person may be subject. Vessel owners and operators may satisfy their financial responsibility obligations by providing a proof of insurance, a surety bond, qualification as a self-insurer or a guarantee. We comply and plan to comply going forward with the USCG’s financial responsibility regulations by providing applicable certificates of financial responsibility.

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in additional regulatory initiatives and statutes, including higher liability caps under OPA, new regulations regarding offshore oil and gas drilling, and a pilot

17

inspection program for offshore facilities.  However, several of these initiatives and regulations have been or may be revised.  For example, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (“BSEE”) revised Production Safety Systems Rule (“PSSR”), effective December 27, 2018, modified and relaxed certain environmental and safety protections under the 2016 PSSR.  Additionally, the BSEE amended the Well Control Rule, effective July 15, 2019, which rolled back certain reforms regarding the safety of drilling operations, and the U.S. President has proposed leasing new sections of U.S. waters to oil and gas companies for offshore drilling.  The effects of these changes and proposals are currently unknown.  Compliance with any new requirements of OPA and future legislation or regulations applicable to the operation of our vessels could impact the cost of our operations and adversely affect our business. 

OPA specifically permits individual states to impose their own liability regimes with regard to oil pollution incidents occurring within their boundaries, provided they accept, at a minimum, the levels of liability established under OPA and some states have enacted legislation providing for unlimited liability for oil spills.  Many U.S. states that border a navigable waterway have enacted environmental pollution laws that impose strict liability on a person for removal costs and damages resulting from a discharge of oil or a release of a hazardous substance.  These laws may be more stringent than U.S. federal law.  Moreover, some states have enacted legislation providing for unlimited liability for discharge of pollutants within their waters, although in some cases, states which have enacted this type of legislation have not yet issued implementing regulations defining vessel owners’ responsibilities under these laws. We intend to comply with all applicable state regulations in the ports where our vessels call.

While we do not carry oil as cargo, we do carry fuel and lube oil in our drybulk carriers.  We currently maintain pollution liability coverage insurance in the amount of $1 billion per incident for each of our vessels. If the damages from a catastrophic spill were to exceed our insurance coverage, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations, cash flows, and ability to pay dividends.

Other United States Environmental Regulations

The U.S. Clean Air Act of 1970 (including its amendments of 1977 and 1990) (“CAA”) requires the EPA to promulgate standards applicable to emissions of volatile organic compounds and other air contaminants.  The CAA requires states to adopt State Implementation Plans, or SIPs, some of which regulate emissions resulting from vessel loading and unloading operations which may affect our vessels.

The U.S. Clean Water Act (“CWA”) prohibits the discharge of oil, hazardous substances and ballast water in U.S. navigable waters unless authorized by a duly-issued permit or exemption, and imposes strict liability in the form of penalties for any unauthorized discharges.  The CWA also imposes substantial liability for the costs of removal, remediation and damages and complements the remedies available under OPA and CERCLA.  In 2015, the EPA expanded the definition of “waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”), thereby expanding federal authority under the CWA.  Following litigation on the revised WOTUS rule, in December 2018, the EPA and Department of the Army proposed a revised, limited definition of “waters of the United States.”  The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on February 14, 2019, and was subject to public comment.  On October 22, 2019, the agencies published a final rule repealing the 2015 Rule.  The final rule became effective on December 23, 2019.  On January 23, 2020, the EPA published the “Navigable Waters Protection Rule,” which replaces the rule published on October 22, 2019, and redefines “waters of the United States.”  The effect of this rule is currently unknown.

The EPA and the USCG have also enacted rules relating to ballast water discharge, compliance with which requires the installation of equipment on our vessels to treat ballast water before it is discharged or the implementation of other port facility disposal arrangements or procedures at potentially substantial costs, and/or otherwise restrict our vessels from entering U.S. Waters.  The EPA will regulate these ballast water discharges and other discharges incidental to the normal operation of certain vessels within United States waters pursuant to the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (“VIDA”), which was signed into law on December 4, 2018 and replaces the 2013 Vessel General Permit (“VGP”) program (which authorizes discharges incidental to operations of commercial vessels and contains numeric ballast water discharge limits for most vessels to reduce the risk of invasive species in U.S. waters, stringent requirements for exhaust gas scrubbers, and requirements for the use of environmentally acceptable lubricants) and current Coast Guard ballast water management regulations adopted under the U.S. National Invasive Species Act (“NISA”), such as mid-ocean

18

ballast exchange programs and installation of approved USCG technology for all vessels equipped with ballast water tanks bound for U.S. ports or entering U.S. waters.  VIDA establishes a new framework for the regulation of vessel incidental discharges under Clean Water Act (CWA), requires the EPA to develop performance standards for those discharges within two years of enactment, and requires the U.S. Coast Guard to develop implementation, compliance, and enforcement regulations within two years of EPA’s promulgation of standards.  Under VIDA, all provisions of the 2013 VGP and USCG regulations regarding ballast water treatment remain in force and effect until the EPA and U.S. Coast Guard regulations are finalized.  Non-military, non-recreational vessels greater than 79 feet in length must continue to comply with the requirements of the VGP, including submission of a Notice of Intent (“NOI”) or retention of a PARI form and submission of annual reports. We have submitted NOIs for our vessels where required.   Compliance with the EPA, U.S. Coast Guard and state regulations could require the installation of ballast water treatment equipment on our vessels or the implementation of other port facility disposal procedures at potentially substantial cost, or may otherwise restrict our vessels from entering U.S. waters. 

European Union Regulations

In October 2009, the European Union amended a directive to impose criminal sanctions for illicit ship-source discharges of polluting substances, including minor discharges, if committed with intent, recklessly or with serious negligence and the discharges individually or in the aggregate result in deterioration of the quality of water. Aiding and abetting the discharge of a polluting substance may also lead to criminal penalties. The directive applies to all types of vessels, irrespective of their flag, but certain exceptions apply to warships or where human safety or that of the ship is in danger. Criminal liability for pollution may result in substantial penalties or fines and increased civil liability claims.  Regulation (EU) 2015/757 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 (amending EU Directive 2009/16/EC) governs the monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon dioxide emissions from maritime transport, and, subject to some exclusions, requires companies with ships over 5,000 gross tonnage to monitor and report carbon dioxide emissions annually, which may cause us to incur additional expenses. 

The European Union has adopted several regulations and directives requiring, among other things, more frequent inspections of high-risk ships, as determined by type, age, and flag as well as the number of times the ship has been detained. The European Union also adopted and extended a ban on substandard ships and enacted a minimum ban period and a definitive ban for repeated offenses. Regulations also provided the European Union with greater authority and control over classification societies, by imposing more requirements on classification societies and providing for fines or penalty payments for organizations that failed to comply. Furthermore, the EU has implemented regulations requiring vessels to use reduced sulfur content fuel for their main and auxiliary engines. The EU Directive 2005/33/EC (amending Directive 1999/32/EC) introduced requirements parallel to those in Annex VI relating to the sulfur content of marine fuels. In addition, the EU imposed a 0.1% maximum sulfur requirement for fuel used by ships at berth in the Baltic, the North Sea and the English Channel (the so-called “SOx-Emission Control Area”).  As of January 2020, EU member states must also ensure that ships in all EU waters, except the SOx-Emission Control are, use fuels with a 0.5% maximum sulfur content.

Greenhouse Gas Regulation

Our industry currently is heavily dependent on the consumption of fossil fuels, which has been linked by certain experts to greenhouse gas emissions and the warming of the global climate system.  We are committed to working to reduce our carbon footprint, including by transitioning to low-carbon fuels while continuing to deliver for our customers.  Our governance, strategy, risk management and performance monitoring efforts with respect to managing this challenge continue to evolve.

Currently, the emissions of greenhouse gases from international shipping are not subject to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which entered into force in 2005 and pursuant to which adopting countries have been required to implement national programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with targets extended through 2020.  International negotiations are continuing with respect to a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, and restrictions on shipping emissions may be included in any new treaty. In December 2009, more than 27 nations, including the U.S. and China, signed the Copenhagen Accord, which includes a non-binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris resulted in the Paris

19

Agreement, which entered into force on November 4, 2016 and does not directly limit greenhouse gas emissions from ships.  The U.S. initially entered into the agreement, but on June 1, 2017, the U.S. President announced that the United States intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which provides for a four-year exit process, meaning that the earliest possible effective withdrawal date cannot be before November 4, 2020.  The timing and effect of such action has yet to be determined.

At MEPC 70 and MEPC 71, a draft outline of the structure of the initial strategy for developing a comprehensive IMO strategy on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships was approved. In accordance with this roadmap, in April 2018, nations at the MEPC 72 adopted an initial strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships.  The initial strategy identifies “levels of ambition” to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including (1) decreasing the carbon intensity from ships through implementation of further phases of the EEDI for new ships; (2) reducing carbon dioxide emissions per transport work, as an average across international shipping, by at least 40% by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70% by 2050, compared to 2008 emission levels; and (3) reducing the total annual greenhouse emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 while pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely.  The initial strategy notes that technological innovation, alternative fuels and/or energy sources for international shipping will be integral to achieve the overall ambition.  These regulations could cause us to incur additional substantial expenses.

The EU made a unilateral commitment to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from its member states from 20% of 1990 levels by 2020. The EU also committed to reduce its emissions by 20% under the Kyoto Protocol’s second period from 2013 to 2020.  Starting in January 2018, large ships over 5,000 gross tonnage calling at EU ports are required to collect and publish data on carbon dioxide emissions and other information.

In the United States, the EPA issued a finding that greenhouse gases endanger the public health and safety, adopted regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions from certain mobile sources, and proposed regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions from large stationary sources. However, in March 2017, the U.S. President signed an executive order to review and possibly eliminate the EPA’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and in August 2019, the Administration announced plans to weaken regulations for methane emissions.  The EPA or individual U.S. states could enact environmental regulations that would affect our operations.

Any passage of climate control legislation or other regulatory initiatives by the IMO, the EU, the U.S. or other countries where we operate, or any treaty adopted at the international level to succeed the Kyoto Protocol or Paris Agreement, that restricts emissions of greenhouse gases could require us to make significant financial expenditures which we cannot predict with certainty at this time. Even in the absence of climate control legislation, our business may be indirectly affected to the extent that climate change may result in sea level changes or certain weather events.

International Labour Organization

The International Labour Organization (the “ILO”) is a specialized agency of the UN that has adopted the Maritime Labor Convention 2006 (“MLC 2006”). A Maritime Labor Certificate and a Declaration of Maritime Labor Compliance is required to ensure compliance with the MLC 2006 for all ships that are 500 gross tonnage or over and are either engaged in international voyages or flying the flag of a Member and operating from a port, or between ports, in another country.   We believe that all of our vessels are in substantial compliance with and are certified to meet MLC 2006.

Vessel Security Regulations

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States, there have been a variety of initiatives intended to enhance vessel security such as the U.S. Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (“MTSA”). To implement certain portions of the MTSA, the USCG issued regulations requiring the implementation of certain security requirements aboard vessels operating in waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and at certain ports and facilities, some of which are regulated by the EPA.

20

Similarly, Chapter XI-2 of the SOLAS Convention imposes detailed security obligations on vessels and port authorities and mandates compliance with the International Ship and Port Facilities Security Code (“the ISPS Code”). The ISPS Code is designed to enhance the security of ports and ships against terrorism. To trade internationally, a vessel must attain an International Ship Security Certificate (“ISSC”) from a recognized security organization approved by the vessel’s flag state. Ships operating without a valid certificate may be detained, expelled from, or refused entry at port until they obtain an ISSC.  The various requirements, some of which are found in the SOLAS Convention, include, for example, on-board installation of automatic identification systems to provide a means for the automatic transmission of safety-related information from among similarly equipped ships and shore stations, including information on a ship’s identity, position, course, speed and navigational status; on-board installation of ship security alert systems, which do not sound on the vessel but only alert the authorities on shore; the development of vessel security plans; ship identification number to be permanently marked on a vessel’s hull; a continuous synopsis record kept onboard showing a vessel's history including the name of the ship, the state whose flag the ship is entitled to fly, the date on which the ship was registered with that state, the ship's identification number, the port at which the ship is registered and the name of the registered owner(s) and their registered address; and compliance with flag state security certification requirements.

The USCG regulations, intended to align with international maritime security standards, exempt non-U.S. vessels from MTSA vessel security measures, provided such vessels have on board a valid ISSC that attests to the vessel’s compliance with the SOLAS Convention security requirements and the ISPS Code. Future security measures could have a significant financial impact on us.  We intend to comply with the various security measures addressed by MTSA, the SOLAS Convention and the ISPS Code.

The cost of vessel security measures has also been affected by the escalation in the frequency of acts of piracy against ships, notably off the coast of Somalia, including the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea area, as well as off the coast of Western Africa.  Substantial loss of revenue and other costs may be incurred as a result of detention of a vessel or additional security measures, and the risk of uninsured losses could significantly affect our business. Costs are incurred in taking additional security measures in accordance with Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy, notably those contained in the BMP5 industry standard.

Inspection by Classification Societies

 

The hull and machinery of every commercial vessel must be classed by a classification society authorized by its country of registry. The classification society certifies that a vessel is safe and seaworthy in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations of the country of registry of the vessel and SOLAS. Most insurance underwriters make it a condition for insurance coverage and lending that a vessel be certified “in class” by a classification society which is a member of the International Association of Classification Societies, the IACS.  The IACS has adopted harmonized Common Structural Rules, or “the Rules,” which apply to oil tankers and bulk carriers contracted for construction on or after July 1, 2015.  The Rules attempt to create a level of consistency between IACS Societies.  All of our vessels are certified as being “in class” by all the applicable Classification Societies (American Bureau of Shipping, DNVGL, or Lloyd's Register of Shipping). All new and secondhand vessels that we purchase must be certified prior to their delivery under our standard agreements.

A vessel must undergo annual surveys, intermediate surveys, drydockings and special surveys. In lieu of a special survey, a vessel’s machinery may be on a continuous survey cycle, under which the machinery would be surveyed periodically over a five-year period. Every vessel is also required to be drydocked every 30 to 36 months for inspection of the underwater parts of the vessel.  If any vessel does not maintain its class and/or fails any annual survey, intermediate survey, drydocking or special survey, the vessel will be unable to carry cargo between ports and will be unemployable and uninsurable which could cause us to be in violation of certain covenants in our loan agreements. Any such inability to carry cargo or be employed, or any such violation of covenants, could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.

21

SEASONALITY

 

We operate our vessels in markets that have historically exhibited seasonal variations in demand and, as a result, freight and charter rates.  We may seek to mitigate the risk of these seasonal variations by entering into long-term time charters for certain of our vessels, where possible.  However, this seasonality may result in quarter-to-quarter volatility in our operating results, depending on when we enter into our time charters or if our vessels trade on the spot market.  The drybulk sector is typically stronger in the fall and winter months in anticipation of increased consumption of coal and raw materials in the northern hemisphere during the winter months.  As a result, our revenues could be weaker during the fiscal quarters ended June 30 and September 30, and conversely, our revenues could be stronger during the quarters ended December 31 and March 31.

 

ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

 

ADDITIONAL FACTORS THAT MAY AFFECT FUTURE RESULTS

 

This annual report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  Such forward-looking statements use words such as “anticipate,” “budget,” “estimate,” “expect,” “project,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” and other words and terms of similar meaning in connection with a discussion of potential future events, circumstances or future operating or financial performance.  These forward-looking statements are based on our management’s current expectations and observations.  Included among the factors that, in our view, could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward looking statements contained in this annual report on Form 10-K are the following: (i) declines or sustained weakness in demand in the drybulk shipping industry; (ii) continuation of weakness or declines in drybulk shipping rates; (iii) changes in the supply of or demand for drybulk products, generally or in particular regions; (iv) changes in the supply of drybulk carriers including newbuilding of vessels or lower than anticipated scrapping of older vessels; (v) changes in rules and regulations applicable to the cargo industry, including, without limitation, legislation adopted by international organizations or by individual countries and actions taken by regulatory authorities; (vi) increases in costs and expenses including but not limited to: crew wages, insurance, provisions, lube oil, bunkers, repairs, maintenance, general and administrative expenses, and management fee expenses; (vii) whether our insurance arrangements are adequate; (viii) changes in general domestic and international political conditions; (ix) acts of war, terrorism, or piracy; (x) changes in the condition of the Company’s vessels or applicable maintenance or regulatory standards (which may affect, among other things, our anticipated drydocking or maintenance and repair costs) and unanticipated drydock expenditures; (xi) the Company’s acquisition or disposition of vessels; (xii) the amount of offhire time needed to complete repairs on vessels and the timing and amount of any reimbursement by our insurance carriers for insurance claims, including offhire days; (xiii) the completion of definitive documentation with respect to charters; (xiv) charterers’ compliance with the terms of their charters in the current market environment; (xv) the extent to which our operating results continue to be affected by weakness in market conditions and freight and charter rates; (xvi) our ability to maintain contracts that are critical to our operation, to obtain and maintain acceptable terms with our vendors, customers and service providers and to retain key executives, managers and employees; (xvii) completion of documentation for vessel transactions and the performance of the terms thereof by buyers or sellers of vessels and us; (xviii) the relative cost and availability of low sulfur and high sulfur fuel or any additional scrubbers we may seek to install; (xix) our ability to realize the economic benefits or recover the cost of the scrubbers we have installed;  (xx) worldwide compliance with sulfur emissions regulations that took effect on January 1, 2020; (xxi) our financial results for the year ending December 31, 2019 and other factors relating to determination of the tax treatment of dividends we have declared; (xxii) the duration and impact of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus epidemic; (xxiii)  those other risks and uncertainties discussed below under the headings “RISK FACTORS RELATED TO OUR BUSINESS & OPERATIONS”, and (xxiii) other factors listed from time to time in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”).  We do not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

 

The following risk factors and other information included in this report should be carefully considered.  If any of the following risks actually occur, our business, financial condition, operating results or cash flows could be materially and adversely affected and the trading price of our common stock could decline.

 

22

RISK FACTORS RELATED TO OUR BUSINESS AND OPERATIONS

 

Industry Specific Risk Factors

 

A downturn in the global economic environment may negatively impact our business.

 

Slow growth rates in the global economy may negatively impact the drybulk industry.  General market volatility has endured over the last several years as a result of uncertainty about the growth rate of the world economy and the Chinese economy in particular, on which the drybulk industry depends to a significant degree.  Freight and charter rates have declined significantly in recent years, but have increased from historic lows due to a relative improvement of demand for drybulk commodities, as well as due to slowing growth rates in the supply of drybulk newbuilding vessel deliveries.  See “Oversupply of drybulk carrier capacity may lead to rate weakness or further reductions in freight rates, charterhire rates and profitability” for further details.  As a result, a number of drybulk shipping companies, including us, have experienced declining revenues, negative cash flow, and liquidity issues in recent years. 

 

If the current global economic environment worsens or does not sufficiently recover, we may be negatively affected in the following ways:

 

·

As a result of low freight and charter rates that in some instances do not allow us to operate our vessels profitably, our earnings and cash flows could decline.  If these conditions continue for a prolonged period of time, they may leave us with insufficient cash resources to fund our operations or make required debt repayments under our credit facilities, which would potentially accelerate the repayment of our outstanding indebtedness.  Please refer to “We may face liquidity issues if conditions in the drybulk market worsen for a prolonged period” below for further details.

 

·

If our earnings and cash flows decline for a prolonged period of time, we may also breach one or more of the covenants in our credit facilities, including covenants relating to our minimum cash balance, collateral maintenance and our minimum working capital. This also would potentially accelerate the repayment of outstanding indebtedness. 

 

·

Market values of our vessels could decrease in the future, which may cause us to recognize losses if any of our vessels are sold, scrapped or if their values are impaired.  Moreover, all of our credit facilities contain collateral maintenance covenants that depend on the appraised values of our vessels.  We currently are in compliance with all such covenants under our credit facilities but may not be in compliance if the appraised values of our vessels decline. The collateral maintenance covenants are tested on a quarterly basis under our $495 Million Credit Facility and our $108 Million Credit Facility.  Please refer to “The market values of our vessels may decrease, which could adversely affect our operating results” below for further details.

 

·

Our charterers may fail to meet their obligations under our time charter and freight agreements.

 

The occurrence of any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, ability to pay dividends, and ability to continue as a going concern.

 

Freight and charterhire rates for drybulk carriers could remain low from a historical perspective or further decrease in the future, which may adversely affect our earnings.  

 

A prolonged downturn in the drybulk charter market, from which we derive the large majority of our revenues, has severely affected the drybulk shipping industry for several years.  Although the Baltic Dry Index (“BDI”), an index published by The Baltic Exchange of shipping rates for key drybulk routes, has shown some improvement.  Although the BDI for 2019 is higher than the lows reached in such period was in line with the average seen in 2018, there were significant fluctuations in freight rates experienced during the year due to factors mentioned in Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.  Moreover, the BDI so far in 2020 has

23

remained volatile, and the economic conditions underlying its overall decline have not abated. Some of the factors behind this decline in the year-to-date are seasonal such as frontloaded newbuilding deliveries, the Lunar New Year celebration in China and weather related disruptions impacting cargo availability.  However, other factors have arisen this year, such as the onset of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus that was reported to have originally surfaced in Wuhan, China, which has resulted in reduced industrial activity in China, with temporary closures of factories and other facilities, and currently has affected market sentiment. The extent to which the coronavirus impacts our results will depend on future developments, which are uncertain and cannot be predicted, including information which may emerge concerning the severity of the coronavirus and the actions to contain the coronavirus or treat its impact, among others.  Accordingly, there can be no assurance that the drybulk charter market will recover in the near future, and the market could experience a further downturn.

 

The supply of and demand for shipping capacity strongly influences freight rates.  Because the factors affecting the supply and demand for vessels are outside of our control and are unpredictable, the nature, timing, direction and degree of changes in industry conditions are also unpredictable.

 

Factors that influence demand for vessel capacity include:

 

·

demand for and production of drybulk products;

 

·

global and regional economic and political conditions, including developments in international trade, fluctuations in industrial and agricultural production and armed conflicts;

 

·

the distance drybulk cargo is to be moved by sea;

 

·

environmental and other regulatory developments; 

 

·

events impacting the production of the commodities that we carry; and

 

·

changes in seaborne and other transportation patterns.

 

Factors that influence the supply of vessel capacity include:

 

·

the number of newbuilding deliveries;

 

·

port and canal congestion;

 

·

the scrapping rate of older vessels;

 

·

vessel casualties;

 

·

conversion of vessels to other uses;

 

·

the number of vessels that are out of service, i.e., laid-up, drydocked, awaiting repairs or otherwise not available for hire; and

 

·

environmental concerns and regulations

 

In addition to prevailing and anticipated freight rates, factors that affect the rate of newbuilding, scrapping and laying-up include newbuilding prices, secondhand vessel values in relation to scrap prices, costs of fuel and other operating costs, costs associated with classification society surveys, normal maintenance and insurance coverage, the efficiency and age profile of the existing fleet in the market and government and industry regulation of maritime transportation practices, particularly environmental protection laws and regulations.  These factors influencing the

24

supply of and demand for shipping capacity are outside of our control, and we may not be able to correctly assess the nature, timing and degree of changes in industry conditions.

 

We anticipate that the future demand for drybulk carriers will continue to depend on economic growth in the world’s economies, particularly China and India, seasonal and regional changes in demand, changes in the capacity of the global drybulk carrier fleet and the sources and supply of drybulk cargo to be transported by sea.  Adverse economic, political, social or other developments, including a change in worldwide fleet capacity, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, ability to pay dividends, and ability to continue as a going concern.

 

The Covid-19 novel coronavirus, or other epidemics, could have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations, or financial condition.

 

We believe the Covid-19 novel coronavirus has negatively affected our business and could continue to do so.  The coronavirus has resulted in reduced industrial activity in China, with temporary closures of factories and other facilities, and we believe it is a contributing factor along with seasonal factors to lower drybulk rates in 2020 thus far, given lower demand for the some of the cargoes we carry, including iron ore and coal.  Moreover, because our vessels travel to ports in China and other countries in which cases of coronavirus have been reported, we face risks to our personnel and operations.  Such risks include delays in the loading and discharging of cargo on or from our vessels, offhire time due to quarantine regulations requiring a minimum of 14 days between departure from a port in China and arrival at a port in certain other countries, delays and expenses in finding substitute crew members if any of our vessels’ crew members become infected, and delays in drydocking if insufficient shipyard personnel are working due to quarantines.  Epidemics may also affect personnel operating payment systems through which we receive revenues from the chartering of our vessels or pay for our expenses, resulting in delays in payments.  At present, it is not possible to ascertain the overall impact of the coronavirus on our business.  However, the occurrence of any of the foregoing events or other epidemic or an increase in the severity or duration of the coronavirus or other epidemic could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, values of our vessels, and ability to pay dividends. 

 

Oversupply of drybulk carrier capacity may lead to rate weakness or further reductions in freight rates, charterhire rates and profitability.

 

Although growth rates have slowed, the market supply of drybulk carriers has continued to increase as a result of the delivery of newbuilding orders, which peaked in 2007.  Scrapping of older vessels has not been sufficient to offset the delivery of such newbuildings.  Moreover, while the order book for new vessels has decreased since its peak in 2008, an improved market environment over the last three years has resulted in new orders being placed.  If the supply of newbuilding vessels outpaces the demand for vessels in the future, it could have a negative impact on freight rates and charterhire rates. If market conditions deteriorate, upon the expiration or termination of our vessels’ current employment, we may only be able to employ our vessels at depressed or unprofitable rates, or we may not be able to employ these vessels at all.  The occurrence of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, ability to pay dividends, and ability to continue as a going concern.

 

Prolonged declines in freight and charter rates, changes in the useful life of vessels, and other market deterioration could cause us to incur impairment charges.

 

We evaluate the carrying amounts of our vessels to determine if events have occurred that would require us to evaluate our vessels for an impairment of their carrying amounts. The recoverable amount of vessels is reviewed based on events and changes in circumstances that would indicate that the carrying amount of the assets might not be recovered. The review for potential impairment indicators and projection of future cash flows related to the vessels is complex and requires us to make various estimates including future freight rates and earnings from the vessels. All of these items have been historically volatile.

 

We determine the recoverable amount of each vessel by estimating the undiscounted future cash flows associated with each vessel. If the recoverable amount is less than the carrying amount of the vessel, the vessel is

25

deemed impaired and such vessel would be written down to its fair market value. The carrying values of our vessels may not represent their fair market value in the future because the new market prices of second-hand vessels tend to fluctuate with changes in freight and charter rates and the cost of newbuildings. Any impairment charges incurred as a result of declines in freight and charter rates could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, ability to pay dividends, and ability to continue as a going concern.

 

An economic slowdown, weakness, or changes in the economic and political environment in the Asia Pacific region could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position and results of operations. 

 

A significant number of the port calls made by our vessels involve the loading or discharging of raw materials and semi-finished products in ports in the Asia Pacific region.  As a result, a negative change in economic conditions in any Asia Pacific country, and particularly in China, India or Japan, could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends.  In particular, in recent years, China has been one of the world’s fastest growing economies in terms of gross domestic product, although its rate of growth has been decreasing. We cannot assure you that the Chinese economy will not experience a contraction in the future.  To the extent the Chinese government does not continue to pursue a policy of economic growth and urbanization, including infrastructure stimulus spending, the level of imports to and exports from China could be adversely affected by changes to these initiatives by the Chinese government, as well as by changes in political, economic and social conditions or other relevant policies of the Chinese government, such as changes in laws, regulations or export and import restrictions.  Notwithstanding economic reform, the Chinese government may adopt policies that favor domestic drybulk shipping companies and may hinder our ability to compete with them effectively.  The Chinese government has also taken actions seen as protecting domestic industries such as coal or steel, which may reduce the demand for drybulk cargoes bound for China and negatively impact the drybulk industry.  Moreover, a significant or protracted slowdown in the economies of the United States, the European Union or various Asian countries may adversely affect economic growth in China and elsewhere. 

 

Any increased trade barriers or restrictions on trade, especially trade with China, could have an adverse impact on global economic conditions and, as a result, the amount of cargo that charterers pay to have transported on drybulk vessels.  As an example of such restrictions, and most notable in term of drybulk trade volumes, China imposed tariffs on U.S. soybean exports.  With the signing of the “phase one” trade agreement between China and the U.S. in January 2020, China has agreed in principle to purchase meaningful quantities of soybeans from the U.S.  However, a re-escalation of protectionist measures taken between these two countries or others could lead to reduced volumes of drybulk trade.  Our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends could be materially and adversely affected by an economic downturn in any of these countries or by increased trade barriers or restrictions on trade.

 

We are subject to regulation and liability under environmental and operational safety laws that could require significant expenditures and affect our cash flows and net income and could subject us to increased liability under applicable law or regulation.  

 

Our business and the operation of our vessels are materially affected by government regulation in the form of international conventions and national, state and local laws and regulations in force in the jurisdictions in which the vessels operate, as well as in the countries of their registration.  Because such conventions, laws, and regulations are often revised, we cannot predict the ultimate cost of complying with them or their impact on the resale prices or useful lives of our vessels.  Additional conventions, laws and regulations may be adopted that could limit our ability to do business or increase the cost of our doing business and that may materially adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends.  See “Overview — Environmental and Other Regulation” in Item 1, “Business” of this annual report for a discussion of such conventions, laws, and regulations.  We are required by various governmental and quasi-governmental agencies to obtain certain permits, licenses, certificates and financial assurances with respect to our operations.

 

The operation of our vessels is affected by the requirements set forth in the ISM Code.  The ISM Code requires ship owners, ship managers and bareboat charterers to develop and maintain an extensive “Safety Management System” that includes the adoption of a safety and environmental protection policy setting forth instructions and procedures for

26

safe operation and describing procedures for dealing with emergencies.  The failure of a ship owner or bareboat charterer to comply with the ISM Code may subject it to increased liability, may invalidate existing insurance or decrease available insurance coverage for the affected vessels and may result in a denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports.

 

The U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (“OPA”) established an extensive regulatory and liability regime for the protection and cleanup of the environment from oil spills.  OPA affects all owners and operators whose vessels trade in the U.S., its territories and possessions or whose vessels operate in U.S. waters.  OPA allows for liability without regard to fault of vessel owners, operators and demise charterers for all containment and clean-up costs and other damages arising from discharges or threatened discharges of oil from their vessels, including bunkers, in U.S. waters.  Such liability is potentially unlimited in cases of willful misconduct or gross negligence.  OPA also expressly permits individual states to impose their own liability regimes with regard to hazardous materials and oil pollution materials occurring within their boundaries, provided they accept, at a minimum, the levels of liability established under OPA.

 

On October 27, 2016, at MEPC 70, MEPC announced the results from a vote to ratify and formalize regulations mandating a reduction in sulfur emissions from 3.5% currently to 0.5% as of the beginning of 2020 rather than pushing the deadline back to 2025. Ships now must either remove sulfur from emissions through the use of emission scrubbers or buy fuel with low sulfur content.  If a vessel is not retrofitted with a scrubber, it will need to use low sulfur fuel, which is more expensive than standard marine fuel.  This increased demand for low sulfur fuel may result in an increase in prices for such fuel. 

 

 In order to comply with regulations mandating a reduction in sulfur emissions from 3.5% to 0.5% as of the beginning of 2020, we entered into agreements to install exhaust gas cleaning systems (“scrubbers”) on our 17 Capesize vessels, sixteen of which installations were completed by December 31, 2019, and the last of which the installation was completed by January 17, 2020.  Additionally, we have transitioned to consuming IMO compliant fuels as of January 1, 2020 on our vessels that are not equipped with scrubbers and when our scrubbers may not be used.  We will continue to evaluate all options to comply with IMO regulations. Our fuel costs and fuel inventories may increase as a result of these sulfur emission regulations.  Low sulfur fuel is more expensive than standard marine fuel containing 3.5% sulfur content and may become more expensive or difficult to obtain as a result of increased demand.  If the cost differential between low sulfur fuel and high sulfur fuel is significantly higher than anticipated, or if low sulfur fuel is not available at ports on certain trading routes, it may not be feasible or competitive to operate vessels on certain trading routes without installing scrubbers or without incurring deviation time to obtain compliant fuel.  Scrubbers may not be available to be installed on such vessels at a favorable cost or at all if we seek them at a later date.  Conversely,  if the cost differential between low sulfur fuel and high sulfur fuel is significantly lower than anticipated, or if regulations are passed negatively impacting the use of open-loop scrubbers, we may not realize the economic benefits or recover the cost of the scrubbers we have installed.  The occurrence of any of the foregoing events may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends.  In addition, a number of countries have imposed restrictions on the discharge of wash water from open loop scrubbers within their port limits.  While there are no restrictions on using open loop scrubbers outside of port limits, any changes in these regulations or more stringent standards globally could impact the use of open loop scrubbers going forward.

 

Recent action by the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee and U.S. agencies indicate that cybersecurity regulations for the maritime industry are likely to be further developed in the near future in an attempt to combat cybersecurity threats.  This might cause companies to cultivate additional procedures for monitoring cybersecurity, which could require additional expenses and/or capital expenditures.  However, the impact of such regulations is difficult to predict at this time.

Regulations relating to ballast water discharge may adversely affect our revenues and profitability.

The IMO has imposed updated guidelines for ballast water management systems specifying the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged from a vessel’s ballast water.  Depending on the date of the IOPP renewal survey, existing vessels constructed before September 8, 2017 must comply with the updated D-2 standard on or after September 8, 2019.  For most vessels, compliance with the D-2 standard will involve installing on-board systems to treat ballast water and eliminate unwanted organisms.  Ships constructed on or after September 8, 2017 are to comply with the D-2 standards on or after September 8, 2017.  During the fourth quarter of 2018, we entered into agreements for the

27

purchase of ballast water treatments systems for 42 of our vessels.  Such systems have been installed on 18 vessels, and we expect the remainder to be installed by 2022.  After the installation of these ballast water treatment systems, all of our vessels will be in compliance with these standards.  The costs of compliance may be substantial and adversely affect our revenues and profitability. 

Furthermore, United States regulations are currently changing.  Although the 2013 Vessel General Permit (“VGP”) program and U.S. National Invasive Species Act (“NISA”) are currently in effect to regulate ballast discharge, exchange and installation, the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (“VIDA”), which was signed into law on December 4, 2018, requires that the EPA develop national standards of performance for approximately 30 discharges, similar to those found in the VGP within two years.  By approximately 2022, the U.S. Coast Guard must develop corresponding implementation, compliance and enforcement regulations regarding ballast water.  The new regulations could require the installation of new equipment, which may cause us to incur substantial costs.

Increased inspection procedures and tighter import and export controls could increase costs and disrupt our business.

 

International shipping is subject to various security and customs inspection and related procedures in countries of origin and destination.  Inspection procedures can result in the seizure of the contents of our vessels, delays in the loading, offloading or delivery and the levying of customs duties, fines or other penalties against us.

 

It is possible that changes to inspection procedures could impose additional financial and legal obligations on us.  Furthermore, changes to inspection procedures could also impose additional costs and obligations on our customers and may, in certain cases, render the shipment of certain types of cargo uneconomical or impractical.  Any such changes or developments may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends.

 

We operate our vessels worldwide and as a result, our vessels are exposed to international risks which could reduce revenue or increase expenses.

 

The international shipping industry is an inherently risky business involving global operations.  Our vessels will be at risk of damage or loss because of events such as mechanical failure, collision, human error, war, terrorism, piracy, cargo loss and bad weather.  All these hazards can result in death or injury to persons, increased costs, loss of revenues, loss or damage to property (including cargo), environmental damage, higher insurance rates, damage to our customer relationships, harm to our reputation as a safe and reliable operator and delay or rerouting.  In addition, changing economic, regulatory and political conditions in some countries, including political and military conflicts, have from time to time resulted in attacks on vessels, mining of waterways, piracy, terrorism, labor strikes and boycotts.  Our vessels may operate in particularly dangerous areas, including areas of the South China Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia, the Gulf of Guinea, and the Red Sea.  In November 2013, the government of the People’s Republic of China announced an Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, covering much of the East China Sea. When introduced, the Chinese ADIZ was controversial because a number of nations are not honoring the ADIZ, and the ADIZ includes certain maritime areas that have been contested among various nations in the region. Tensions relating to the Chinese ADIZ may escalate as a result of incidents relating to the ADIZ or other territorial disputes, which may result in additional  limitations on navigation or trade.  These sorts of events could interfere with shipping routes and result in market disruptions that could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends.

 

In addition, public health threats, such as the Covid-19 novel coronavirus, influenza and other highly communicable diseases or viruses, outbreaks of which have from time to time occurred in various parts of the world in which we operate, including China, could adversely impact our operations, and the operations of our customers.

 

Our vessels may suffer damage, and we may face unexpected drydocking costs, which could adversely affect our cash flow and financial condition.

 

If our vessels suffer damage, they may need to be repaired at a drydocking facility.  The costs of drydock repairs are unpredictable and can be substantial.  We may have to pay drydocking costs that our insurance does not cover

28

in full.  In addition, space at drydocking facilities is sometimes limited and not all drydocking facilities are conveniently located.  We may be unable to find space at a suitable drydocking facility or we may be forced to travel to a drydocking facility that is distant from the relevant vessel’s position.  The loss of earnings while our vessels are being repaired and repositioned or from being forced to wait for space or to travel to more distant drydocking facilities, as well as the actual cost of repairs, could negatively impact our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends.

 

The operation of drybulk carriers has certain unique operational risks which could affect our earnings and cash flow.

 

The operation of certain ship types, such as drybulk carriers, has certain unique risks.  With a drybulk carrier, the cargo itself and its interaction with the vessel can be an operational risk.  By their nature, drybulk cargoes are often heavy, dense, easily shifted, and react badly to water exposure.  In addition, drybulk carriers are often subjected to battering treatment during unloading operations with grabs, jackhammers (to pry encrusted cargoes out of the hold) and small bulldozers.  This treatment may cause damage to the vessel.  Vessels damaged due to treatment during unloading procedures may be more susceptible to breach to the sea.  Hull breaches in drybulk carriers may lead to the flooding of the vessels’ holds.  If a drybulk carrier suffers flooding in its forward holds, the bulk cargo may become so dense and waterlogged that its pressure may buckle the vessel’s bulkheads, leading to the loss of a vessel.  If we are unable to adequately maintain our vessels, we may be unable to prevent these events.  Any of these circumstances or events may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends.  In addition, the loss of any of our vessels could harm our reputation as a safe and reliable vessel owner and operator.

 

Acts of piracy on ocean-going vessels have continued and could adversely affect our business.

 

Acts of piracy have historically affected ocean-going vessels trading in regions of the world such as the South China Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia, the Gulf of Guinea, and the Red Sea.  Sea piracy incidents continue to occur particularly in the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Guinea and increasingly in Southeast Asia.  If these piracy attacks result in regions in which our vessels are deployed being characterized by insurers as “war risk” zones, or Joint War Committee (JWC) “war and strikes” listed areas, premiums payable for such coverage could increase significantly and such insurance coverage may be more difficult to obtain, if available at all.  In addition, crew costs, including costs that may be incurred to the extent we employ onboard security guards, could increase in such circumstances.  We may not be adequately insured to cover losses from these incidents, which could have a material adverse effect on us.  In addition, detention hijacking as a result of an act of piracy against our vessels, or an increase in cost, or unavailability of insurance for our vessels, could have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.

 

In response to piracy incidents, following consultation with regulatory authorities, we may station guards on some of our vessels in some instances. While our use of guards is intended to deter and prevent the hijacking of our vessels, it may also increase our risk of liability for death or injury to persons or damage to personal property. If we do not have adequate insurance in place to cover such liability, it could adversely impact our business, results of operations, cash flows, and financial condition.

 

Terrorist attacks and other acts of violence or war may have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

Terrorist attacks continue to cause uncertainty in the world’s financial markets and may affect our business, operating results and financial condition. Continuing conflicts and recent developments in the Middle East, and the presence of U.S. and other armed forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan, may lead to additional acts of terrorism and armed conflict around the world, which may contribute to further economic instability in the global financial markets. Following the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed to on July 14, 2015 with regard to the Iranian nuclear program, tensions have been rising between Iran on the one hand and the United States and its allies on the other.  Recent incidents have included the alleged sabotage of oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, the seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker by Iranian forces, the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani by a U.S. drone strike, and a retaliatory Iranian missile strike on military bases in Iraq housing U.S.

29

soldiers.  As our vessels transit the Arabian Gulf from time to time, they may face an increased risk of damage or seizure. These uncertainties could also adversely affect our ability to obtain additional financing on terms acceptable to us or at all. In the past, political conflicts have also resulted in attacks on vessels, mining of waterways and other efforts to disrupt international shipping, particularly in the Arabian Gulf region. Any of these occurrences could have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operation, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.

 

Compliance with safety and other vessel requirements imposed by classification societies may be costly and could reduce our net cash flows and net income.

 

The hull and machinery of commercial vessels must be certified as being “in class” by a classification society authorized by its country of registry.  The classification society certifies that a vessel is safe and seaworthy in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations of the country of registry of the vessel and the SOLAS Convention.  Our vessels are currently enrolled with the ABS, DNVGL, or Lloyd’s, each of which is a member of the IACS. Further, to trade internationally, a vessel must attain an ISSC from a recognized security organization.

 

A vessel must undergo annual surveys, intermediate surveys and special surveys.  In lieu of a special survey, a vessel’s machinery may be placed on a continuous survey cycle, under which the machinery would be surveyed periodically over a five-year period.  Our vessels are on special survey cycles for hull inspection and continuous survey cycles for machinery inspection.  Every vessel is also required to be drydocked every five years during the special survey.  For vessels that are less than 15 years old, intermediate surveys can be performed in the form of in-water examination of its underwater parts every two to three years.  For vessels that are older than 15 years, the vessel is required to be drydocked during the intermediate survey as well as the special survey.

 

If any vessel does not maintain its class or fails any annual, intermediate or special survey, the vessel will be unable to trade between ports and will be unemployable and we could be in violation of certain covenants in our credit facilities, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.

 

If our vessels call on ports located in countries that are subject to restrictions imposed by the U.S. or other governments, that could adversely affect our reputation and the market for our common shares.

 

All of our charters with customers contain restrictions prohibiting our vessels from entering any countries or conducting any trade prohibited by the United States. However, there is no assurance that, on such charterers’ instructions, our vessels will not call on ports located in countries subject to sanctions or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government or countries identified by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran, Sudan and Syria. Although we believe that we are in compliance with all applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations, and intend to maintain such compliance, there is no assurance that we will be in compliance in the future, particularly as the scope of certain laws may be unclear and may be subject to changing interpretations. Any such violation could result in fines or other penalties and could result in some investors deciding, or being required, to divest their interest, or not to invest, in us. Additionally, some investors may decide to divest their interest, or not to invest, in us simply because we do business with companies that do business in sanctioned countries. Moreover, our charterers may violate applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations as a result of actions that do not involve us or our vessels, and those violations could in turn negatively affect our reputation. Investor perception of the value of our common stock may also be adversely affected by the consequences of war, the effects of terrorism, civil unrest and governmental actions in these and surrounding countries.

 

We could be adversely affected by violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, UK Bribery Act, and other applicable worldwide anti-corruption laws.

 

The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and other applicable worldwide anti-corruption laws generally prohibit companies and their intermediaries from making improper payments to government officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business.  These laws include the U.K. Bribery Act, which became effective on July 1, 2011 and which is broader in scope than the FCPA, as it contains no facilitating payments exception.  We charter our vessels into some jurisdictions that international corruption monitoring groups have identified as having high levels of

30

corruption.  Our activities create the risk of unauthorized payments or offers of payments by one of our employees or agents that could be in violation of the FCPA or other applicable anti-corruption laws.  Our policies mandate compliance with applicable anti-corruption laws.  Although we have policies, procedures and internal controls in place to monitor internal and external compliance, we cannot assure that our policies and procedures will protect us from governmental investigations or inquiries surrounding actions of our employees or agents.  If we are found to be liable for violations of the FCPA or other applicable anti-corruption laws (either due to our own acts or our inadvertence, or due to the acts or inadvertence of others), we could suffer from civil and criminal penalties or other sanctions.

 

We may be unable to attract and retain qualified, skilled employees or crew necessary to operate our business.

 

Our success depends in large part on our ability to attract and retain highly skilled and qualified personnel.  In crewing our vessels, we require technically skilled employees with specialized training who can perform physically demanding work.  Competition to attract and retain qualified crew members is intense.  If we are not able to increase our rates to compensate for any crew cost increases, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.  Any inability our third party technical managers or we experience in the future to hire, train and retain a sufficient number of qualified employees could impair our ability to manage, maintain and grow our business, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.

 

Labor interruptions could disrupt our business.

 

Our vessels are manned by masters, officers and crews that are employed by third parties.  If not resolved in a timely and cost-effective manner, industrial action or other labor unrest could prevent or hinder our operations from being carried out normally and could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.

 

The smuggling of drugs or other contraband onto our vessels may lead to governmental claims against us.

 

We expect that our vessels will call in ports in South America and other areas where smugglers attempt to hide drugs and other contraband on vessels, with or without the knowledge of crew members.  To the extent our vessels are found with contraband, whether inside or attached to the hull of our vessel and whether with or without the knowledge of any of our crew, we may face governmental or other regulatory claims which could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.

 

Arrests of our vessels by maritime claimants could cause a significant loss of earnings for the related off-hire period.

 

Crew members, suppliers of goods and services to a vessel, shippers of cargo and other parties may be entitled to a maritime lien against a vessel for unsatisfied debts, claims or damages.  In many jurisdictions, a maritime lienholder may enforce its lien by “arresting” or “attaching” a vessel through foreclosure proceedings. The arrest or attachment of one or more of our vessels could result in a significant loss of earnings for the related off-hire period.  In addition, in jurisdictions where the “sister ship” theory of liability applies, a claimant may arrest the vessel which is subject to the claimant’s maritime lien and any “associated” vessel, which is any vessel owned or controlled by the same owner.  In countries with “sister ship” liability laws, claims might be asserted against us or any of our vessels for liabilities of other vessels that we own.

 

Governments could requisition our vessels during a period of war or emergency, resulting in loss of earnings.

 

A government of a vessel’s registry could requisition for title or seize our vessels.  Requisition for title occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and becomes the owner.  A government could also requisition our vessels for hire.  Requisition for hire occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and effectively becomes the charterer at dictated charter rates.  Generally, requisitions occur during a period of war or emergency.  Government requisition of one or more of our vessels could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.

 

31

Changes in fuel prices could adversely affect our profits.

 

We operate a large portion of the vessels in our fleet on spot market voyage charters.  Spot market voyage charter arrangements generally provide that the vessel owner bear the cost of fuel in the form of bunkers, which is a significant expense of operating the vessel.  We currently have 30 vessels operating on spot market voyage charters and we may arrange for more vessels to do so, depending on market conditions.  Depending on the timing of increases in the price of fuel and market conditions, we may be unable to pass along increases in fuel prices to our customers.  Currently, a portion of our vessels are operating on spot market voyage charters while the balance are operating under standard time charter arrangements.  Under standard time charter arrangements, the charterer bears the cost of fuel in the form of bunkers.  At the commencement of a charter, the charterer purchases fuel from us at the then-prevailing market rates, and we are obligated to repurchase fuel at that same initial rate when the charterer redelivers the vessel back to us. Market rates at the time the charterer redelivers the vessel to us after completion of the charter (including any direct continuations) may be more or less than the prevailing market rates at the commencement of the charter.  In certain of our short-term time charter agreements, we sell the charterer the amount of the bunkers actually consumed and the charterer is required to redeliver the vessel to us without replenishment of the bunkers consumed. We believe the staggered nature of time charter expirations and the cyclical nature of fuel prices over time should reduce the risk of these repurchase obligations.  However, the date of redelivery of vessels and fluctuations in the price and supply of fuel are unpredictable and therefore these arrangements could result in losses or reductions in working capital that are beyond our control.

 

Given that under certain arrangements with short-term or spot market voyage charters, we may bear the cost of fuel, the recent volatility in fuel prices could be a factor affecting profitability in these arrangements. To profitably price an individual charter, we must take into account the anticipated cost of fuel for the duration of the charter. Changes in the actual price of fuel at the time the charter is to be performed could result in the charter being performed at a significantly greater or lesser profit than originally anticipated or even result in a loss.

 

We have implemented a comprehensive approach to compliance with IMO regulations that limit sulfur emissions from vessels to 0.5% down from 3.5% on a global basis to improve air quality. This approach includes retrofitting our 17 Capesize vessels with scrubbers while our remaining fleet of minor bulk vessels consumes very-low sulfur fuel (“VLSFO”). The performance of our investment in scrubbers is dependent upon, among other factors, the fuel spread between compliant and high sulfur fuel. Any adverse changes to the spread between these two fuel types could result in a lengthening of the anticipated payback period for this investment.

 

For our minor bulk fleet, the cost of low sulfur fuel is more expensive than standard marine fuel. The increased demand for low sulfur fuel has resulted in an increase in prices for such fuel and may result in further increases. We may not be able to pass these incremental fuel costs along in our freight rates. As such, we may have to absorb the higher cost of fuel. We believe that our ability to pass along the added fuel costs will depend on supply and demand fundamentals in the global drybulk shipping industry.

 

To mitigate the  risk associated with fuel price increases, we may enter into forward bunker contracts from time to time that permit us to purchase fuel at a fixed price in exchange for payment of a certain amount.  We may incur a loss on such contracts if the price of fuel declines below the price at which the contract permits us to purchase fuel, or a significant increase in the price of fuel may not be mitigated by our entry into such contracts, if any.  Either occurrence could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations, cash flows, and ability to pay dividends.

 

Our results of operations are subject to seasonal fluctuations, which may adversely affect our financial condition.

 

We operate our vessels in markets that have historically exhibited seasonal variations in demand and, as a result, freight and charter rates.  This seasonality may result in quarter-to-quarter volatility in our operating results, depending on when we enter into our time charters or if our vessels trade on the spot market.  The drybulk sector is typically stronger in the fall and winter months in anticipation of increased consumption of coal and raw materials in the northern hemisphere during the winter months.  As a result, our revenues could be weaker during the fiscal quarters ended June 30 and September 30, and conversely, our revenue could be stronger during the quarters ended December 31

32

and March 31.  This seasonality could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends.

 

Company Specific Risk Factors

 

We may face liquidity issues if conditions in the drybulk market worsen for a prolonged period.

 

While supply and demand fundamentals have improved starting in 2017, persistent, historically low rates prior to 2017 in the drybulk shipping market resulted in decreases in our prior period revenues.  As a result, we experienced negative cash flows, and in turn, our liquidity was negatively impacted. If the market environment declines over a prolonged period of time, we may have insufficient liquidity to fund ongoing operations or satisfy our obligations under our credit facilities, which may lead to a default under one or more of our credit facilities. 

 

If we are in default of any of our credit facilities, the repayment of our indebtedness under the relevant facility could potentially be accelerated.   In addition, each of our credit facilities contain cross default provisions that could be triggered by a default under any of our other credit facilities, with the result that the repayment of some or all of our indebtedness could potentially be accelerated.

 

As a result, we could experience a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, ability to pay dividends, and we may cease to continue as a going concern.  For a further discussion of our liquidity issues, see “Liquidity and Capital Resources” in Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operation” below.

 

The market values of our vessels may decrease, which could adversely affect our operating results.

 

If the book value of one of our vessels is impaired due to unfavorable market conditions or a vessel is sold at a price below its book value, we would incur a loss that could adversely affect our financial results.  Refer to the “Impairment of long-lived assets” section under the heading “Critical Accounting Policies” in Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operation” for further information.  The occurrence of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.

 

Our earnings and our ability to pay dividends will be adversely affected if we do not successfully employ our vessels.

 

As of February 25, 2020, approximately 56% of our vessels were in arrangements in which they were trading at spot market rates through spot market voyage charters.  Thirty of our vessels were engaged under spot market voyage charters as of such date.  Additionally,  20 of the vessels in our fleet were engaged under fixed rate time charters as of such date.  All of the charter contracts for our vessels expire (assuming the option periods in the time charters are not exercised) between February 2020 and May 2020. The charterhire rates for our vessels have sometimes declined below the operating costs of our vessels.  Because we currently charter most of our vessels on spot market voyage charters and spot market-related time charters, we are exposed to the cyclicality and volatility of the spot charter market, and we do not have significant long-term, fixed-rate time charters to ameliorate the adverse effects of downturns in the spot market. Capesize vessels, which we operate as part of our fleet, have been particularly susceptible to significant freight rate fluctuations in spot charter rates.

 

To the extent our vessels trade in the spot charter market, we may experience fluctuations in revenue, cash flow and net income.  The spot charter market is highly competitive, and spot market voyage charter rates may fluctuate dramatically based primarily on the worldwide supply of drybulk vessels available in the market and the worldwide demand for the transportation of drybulk cargoes.  We can provide no assurance that future freight rates and charterhire rates will enable us to operate our vessels profitably.  In addition, our standard time charter contracts with our customers specify certain performance parameters, which if not met can result in customer claims.  Such claims may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.

 

33

To the extent our vessels are engaged under spot market voyages, we will face operational risks because we will be responsible for delays in delivery of the cargo, which may be due to issues with weather, the breakdown of a vessel, congestion at the port of delivery, or other factors that may be beyond our control.  Such delays can result in customer claims.  In addition, spot market voyages will require us to make payments directly to third parties that our charters would ordinarily make under chartering arrangements.   Such arrangements carry a risk of disputes and fraud by third parties.  As a result of any of these circumstances, we may experience a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.

 

In addition, while we try to capture arbitrage opportunities by taking cargo positions, a significant fluctuation in the rate environment could adversely affect the profitability of those trades.

 

The revenues we earn may depend on the success and profitability of any vessel pools in which we may operate our vessels.

 

We currently do not deploy any of our vessels in pooling arrangements.  However, we may deploy our vessels in one or more vessel pools from time to time as part of our chartering strategy.  Chartering arrangements for our vessels deployed in a pool are handled by the commercial manager of the pool. The profitability of our vessels operating in vessel pools will depend upon the pool managers’ ability to successfully implement a profitable chartering strategy, which could include, among other things, obtaining favorable charters and employing vessels in the pool efficiently in order to service those charters. The pool’s profitability will also depend on minimizing, to the extent possible, time spent waiting for charters and time spent traveling unladen to pick up cargo. Furthermore, should an incident occur that negatively affects a pool’s revenues or should a pool underperform, then our profitability will be negatively impacted as a result. Commercial managers of pools typically exercise significant control and discretion over the operation of the pool, and our success and profitability will depend on the success of the pools in which we participate, particularly if we transition to a new pool. If vessels from other owners which enter into pools in which we participate are not of comparable design or quality to our vessels, or if the owners of such other vessels negotiate for greater pool weightings than those obtained by us, this could negatively impact the profitability of the pools in which we participate or dilute our interest in pool profits. If we wish to withdraw a vessel from a pool, we are required to give advance notice and the agreements we enter into with pools in which we participate may provide the applicable pool the right to defer withdrawal of our vessels. If the commercial manager of the pools in which we participate were to cease serving in such capacity, the pools may not be able to find a replacement commercial manager who will be as successful as the current commercial manager in chartering vessels and who may not have the same customer relationships. Additionally, were we to seek to assume direct commercial management of these vessels, either by choice or because of our failure to negotiate or maintain favorable terms with a profitable and well-managed pool, we may face similar challenges.    

 

Restrictive covenants under our credit facilities may restrict our growth and operations.

 

Our credit facilities impose operating and financial restrictions that may limit our ability to:

 

·

utilize cash above a certain amount as a result of cash sweeps;

 

·

incur additional indebtedness on satisfactory terms or at all;

 

·

incur liens on our assets;

 

·

sell our vessels or the capital stock of our subsidiaries;

 

·

make investments;

 

·

engage in mergers or acquisitions;

 

·

pay dividends;

 

34

·

make capital expenditures;

 

·

compete effectively to the extent our competitors are subject to less onerous financial restrictions; and

 

·

change the management of our vessels or terminate or materially amend the management agreement relating to any of our vessels.

 

Therefore, we may need to seek permission from our lenders in order to engage in some corporate actions. Our lenders’ interests may be different from ours, and we cannot guarantee that we will be able to obtain our lenders’ permission when needed. This may prevent us from taking actions that are in our best interest and from executing our business strategy of growth through acquisitions and may restrict or limit our ability to pay dividends and finance our future operations.

 

We depend upon ten charterers for a large part of our revenues.  The loss of one or more of these charterers or any other significant customers could adversely affect our financial performance.

 

We have derived a significant part of our revenues from a small number of charterers.  For the year ended December 31, 2019, approximately 39% of our revenues were derived from ten charterers. Of our total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2019, we did not have any customer that accounted for more than 10% of our voyage revenue. While we are seeking to expand customer relationships with cargo providers, this may not sufficiently diversify our customer base to mitigate this risk.  If we were to lose any of our major customers, or if any of them significantly reduced its use of our services or was unable to make payments to us, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.

 

The aging of our fleet and our practice of purchasing and operating previously owned vessels may result in increased operating costs and vessels off-hire, which could adversely affect our earnings.

 

The majority of our drybulk carriers were previously owned by third parties.  We may seek additional growth through the acquisition of previously owned vessels.  While we typically inspect previously owned vessels before purchase, this does not provide us with the same knowledge about their condition that we would have had if these vessels had been built for and operated exclusively by us.  Accordingly, we may not discover defects or other problems with such vessels before purchase.  Any such hidden defects or problems, when detected, may be expensive to repair, and if not detected, may result in accidents or other incidents for which we may become liable to third parties.  Also, when purchasing previously owned vessels, we do not receive the benefit of any builder warranties if the vessels we buy are older than one year.

 

In general, the costs to maintain a vessel in good operating condition increase with the age of the vessel.  The average age of the vessels in our current fleet is approximately 9.8 years.  Older vessels are typically less fuel-efficient than more recently constructed vessels due to improvements in engine technology and cargo insurance rates increase with the age of a vessel, making older vessels less desirable to charterers.

 

Governmental regulations, safety and other equipment standards related to the age of vessels may require expenditures for alterations or the addition of new equipment to some of our vessels and may restrict the type of activities in which these vessels may engage.  We cannot assure you that, as our vessels age, market conditions will justify those expenditures or enable us to operate our vessels profitably during the remainder of their useful lives.  As a result, regulations and standards could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.

 

An increase in operating costs or interest rates could adversely affect our cash flow and financial condition.

 

Our vessel operating expenses include the costs of crewing and insurance.  In addition, to the extent we enter the spot charter market, we would incur the cost of bunkers as part of our voyage expenses.  The price of bunker fuel may be volatile over the relatively short periods of spot charters and may increase in the future.  If our vessels suffer damage, they may need to be repaired at a drydocking facility.  The costs of drydock repairs are unpredictable and can

35

be substantial.  Moreover, we expect that the cost of maintenance and drydocking will increase as our fleet ages.  Increases in any of these costs could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.

 

We are also subject to market risks relating to changes in LIBOR rates because we have significant amounts of floating rate debt outstanding.  Moreover, in the recent past, concerns have been publicized that some of the member banks surveyed by the British Bankers’ Association (“BBA”) in connection with the calculation of LIBOR may have been underreporting or otherwise manipulating the inter-bank lending rate applicable to them. A number of BBA member banks entered into settlements with their regulators and law enforcement agencies with respect to alleged LIBOR manipulation, and investigations by regulators and governmental authorities in various jurisdictions are ongoing.  In addition, on July 27, 2017, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority announced that it intends to stop persuading or compelling banks to submit LIBOR rates after 2021.  It is not currently possible to predict the effect of any establishment of alternative reference rates or any other reforms to LIBOR that may be enacted in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.  If LIBOR or any alternative reference rate were to increase significantly, the amount of interest payable on our outstanding indebtedness could increase significantly and could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.

 

We depend to a significant degree upon third party managers to provide the technical management of our fleet.  Any failure of these technical managers to perform their obligations to us could adversely affect our business.

 

We have contracted the technical management of our fleet, including crewing, maintenance and repair services, to third party technical management companies.  The failure of these technical managers to perform their obligations could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends.  Although we may have rights against our third party managers if they default on their obligations to us, our shareholders will share that recourse only indirectly to the extent that we recover funds.

 

In the highly competitive international drybulk shipping industry, we may not be able to compete for charters with new entrants or established companies with greater resources.

 

We employ our vessels in a highly competitive market that is capital intensive and highly fragmented.  Competition arises primarily from other vessel owners, some of whom have substantially greater resources than we do.  Competition for the transportation of drybulk cargoes can be intense and depends on price, location, size, age, condition and the acceptability of the vessel and its managers to the charterers.  Due in part to the highly fragmented market, competitors with greater resources could enter and operate larger fleets through consolidations or acquisitions that may be able to offer better prices and fleets than we are able to offer.

 

Future dividends are subject to the discretion of our Board of Directors; dividends and share repurchases are limited under our credit facilities.

 

Our quarterly dividend policy and declaration and payment of dividends is subject to legally available funds, compliance with law and contractual obligations and our Board of Directors’ determination that each declaration and payment is in the best interest of the Company and our shareholders.  While we have initiated this policy, there is no legal obligation to continue paying dividends at the same rate or at all, and this policy may change in the future.  Our declaration and payment of dividends is also subject to a number of conditions and restrictions as described below.

 

Under the terms of our $495 Million Credit Facility and our $108 Million Credit Facility, our payment of dividends or repurchases of our stock are subject to customary conditions.  We may pay dividends or repurchase stock under these facilities to the extent our total cash and cash equivalents are greater than $100 million and 18.75% of our total indebtedness, whichever is higher; if we cannot satisfy this condition, we are subject to a limitation of 50% of consolidated net income for the quarter preceding such dividend payment or stock repurchase if the collateral maintenance test ratio is 200% or less for such quarter, for which purpose the full commitment of up to $35 million of our new scrubber tranche is assumed to be drawn.  The declaration and payment of any dividend or any stock repurchase is subject to the discretion of our Board of Directors.  The principal business factors that our Board of Directors expects to consider when determining the timing and amount of dividend payments or stock repurchases include our earnings,

36

financial condition, and cash requirements at the time. Marshall Islands law generally prohibits the declaration and payment of dividends or stock repurchases other than from surplus. Marshall Islands law also prohibits the declaration and payment of dividends or stock repurchases while a company is insolvent or would be rendered insolvent by the payment of such a dividend or such a stock repurchase.

 

We may incur other expenses or liabilities that would reduce or eliminate the cash available for distribution as dividends.  We may also enter into new agreements or the Marshall Islands or another jurisdiction may adopt laws or regulations that place additional restrictions on our ability to pay dividends.  If we decrease, suspend or terminate the payment of dividends, our stock price may decline.  If we suspend or terminate dividends, the return on your investment would be limited to the price at which you could sell your shares.

 

We may not be able to grow or effectively manage our growth, which could cause us to incur additional indebtedness and other liabilities and adversely affect our business.

 

We may seek growth by expanding our business.  Our future growth will depend on a number of factors, some of which we can control and some of which we cannot.  These factors include our ability to:

 

·

identify vessels for acquisition;

 

·

consummate acquisitions or establish joint ventures;

 

·

integrate acquired vessels successfully with our existing operations;

 

·

expand our customer base; and

 

·

obtain required financing for our existing and new operations.

 

Currently, there is no availability under our existing credit facilities except for the $12.5 million remainder of the $35 million tranche under the $495 Million Credit Facility, which we will drawdown during the first quarter of 2020 Facility to cover a portion of the expenses related to the acquisition and installation of scrubbers on our 17 Capesize vessels. These limitations place significant restrictions on financing that we could use for our growth.

 

Growing any business by acquisition presents numerous risks, including undisclosed liabilities and obligations, difficulty obtaining additional qualified personnel, managing relationships with customers and suppliers and integrating newly acquired operations into existing infrastructures.  Future acquisitions could result in the incurrence of additional indebtedness and liabilities that could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.  In addition, competition from other buyers for vessels could reduce our acquisition opportunities or cause us to pay a higher price than we might otherwise pay.  We cannot assure you that we will be successful in executing our growth plans or that we will not incur significant expenses and losses in connection with these plans.

 

We currently maintain all of our cash and cash equivalents with four financial institutions, which subjects us to credit risk.

 

We currently maintain all of our cash and cash equivalents with four financial institutions.  None of our balances are covered by insurance in the event of default by the financial institutions.  The occurrence of such a default of any of these institutions could therefore have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows, and ability to pay dividends.

 

37

If we are unable to fund our capital expenditures, we may not be able to continue to operate some of our vessels, which would have a material adverse effect on our business and our ability to pay dividends.

 

In order to fund our capital expenditures, we may be required to incur borrowings or raise capital through the sale of debt or equity securities.  Our ability to borrow money and access the capital markets through future offerings may be limited by our financial condition at the time of any such offering as well as by adverse market conditions resulting from, among other things, general economic conditions and contingencies and uncertainties that are beyond our control.  Our failure to obtain the funds for necessary future capital expenditures would limit our ability to continue to operate some of our vessels or impair the value of our vessels and could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition, cash flows, and ability to pay dividends. 

 

We are a holding company, and we depend on the ability of our subsidiaries to distribute funds to us in order to satisfy our financial obligations or to make dividend payments.

 

We are a holding company, and our subsidiaries, which are all wholly owned by us, either directly or indirectly, conduct all of our operations and own all of our operating assets.  We have no significant assets other than the equity interests in our wholly owned subsidiaries.  As a result, our ability to satisfy our financial obligations and to pay dividends to our shareholders depends on the ability of our subsidiaries to distribute funds to us.  In turn, the ability of our subsidiaries to make dividend payments to us will be dependent on them having profits available for distribution and, to the extent that we are unable to obtain dividends from our subsidiaries, this will limit the discretion of our Board of Directors to pay or recommend the payment of dividends.

 

We are at risk for the creditworthiness of our charterers.

 

The actual or perceived credit quality of our charterers, and any defaults by them, or market conditions affecting the time charter market and the credit markets, may materially affect our ability to obtain the additional capital resources that may be required to purchase additional vessels or may significantly increase our costs of obtaining such capital.  Our inability to obtain additional financing at all or at a higher than anticipated cost may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.

 

If management is unable to continue to provide reports as to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting or our independent registered public accounting firm is unable to continue to provide us with unqualified attestation reports as to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting if required, investors could lose confidence in the reliability of our financial statements, which could result in a decrease in the value of our common stock.

 

Under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, we are required to include in this and each of our future annual reports on Form 10-K a report containing our management’s assessment of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting and, if we are an accelerated or large accelerated filer, a related attestation of our independent registered public accounting firm.  As disclosed in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2014, as amended, management concluded that our internal controls over financial reporting were not effective as of December 31, 2014 as a result of internal control design deficiencies limited to certain aspects of our implementation of fresh-start accounting.  Our independent registered public accounting firm’s attestation report as to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting was adverse as a result.  If, in such future annual reports on Form 10-K, our management cannot provide a report as to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting or our independent registered public accounting firm is unable to provide us with an unqualified attestation report as to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting if required by Section 404, investors could lose confidence in the reliability of our Consolidated Financial Statements, which could result in a decrease in the value of our common stock.

 

38

If we are unable to operate our financial and operations systems effectively or to recruit suitable employees as we expand our fleet, our performance may be adversely affected.

 

Our current financial and operating systems may not be adequate as we implement our plan to expand the size of our fleet, and our attempts to improve those systems may be ineffective.  In addition, as we expand our fleet, we will have to rely on our outside technical managers to recruit suitable additional seafarers and shore-based administrative and management personnel.  We cannot assure you that our outside technical managers will be able to continue to hire suitable employees as we expand our fleet.

 

We may be unable to attract and retain key management personnel and other employees in the shipping industry, which may negatively affect the effectiveness of our management and our results of operations.

 

Our success depends to a significant extent upon the abilities and efforts of our management team and our ability to hire and retain key members of our management team.  The loss of any of these individuals could adversely affect our business prospects and financial condition.  Difficulty in hiring and retaining personnel could have a material adverse effect our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.  We do not intend to maintain “key man” life insurance on any of our officers.

 

We may not have adequate insurance to compensate us if we lose our vessels or to compensate third parties.

 

There are a number of risks associated with the operation of ocean-going vessels, including mechanical failure, collision, human error, war, terrorism, piracy, property loss, cargo loss or damage and business interruption due to political circumstances in foreign countries, hostilities and labor strikes.  Any of these events may result in loss of revenues, increased costs and decreased cash flows.  In addition, the operation of any vessel is subject to the inherent possibility of marine disaster, including oil spills and other environmental mishaps, and the liabilities arising from owning and operating vessels in international trade.

 

We are insured against tort claims and some contractual claims (including claims related to environmental damage and pollution) through memberships in protection and indemnity associations or clubs, or P&I Associations.  As a result of such membership, the P&I Associations provide us coverage for such tort and contractual claims.  We also carry hull and machinery insurance and war risk insurance for our fleet.  We insure our vessels for third party liability claims subject to and in accordance with the rules of the P&I Associations in which the vessels are entered.  We currently maintain insurance against loss of hire, which covers business interruptions that result in the loss of use of a vessel.  We can give no assurance that we will be adequately insured against all risks.  We may not be able to obtain adequate insurance coverage for our fleet in the future.  The insurers may not pay particular claims.  Our insurance policies contain deductibles for which we will be responsible and limitations and exclusions which may increase our costs or lower our revenue.

 

We cannot assure you that we will be able to renew our insurance policies on the same or commercially reasonable terms, or at all, in the future.  For example, more stringent environmental regulations have led in the past to increased costs for, and in the future may result in the lack of availability of, protection and indemnity insurance against risks of environmental damage or pollution.  Any uninsured or underinsured loss could harm our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.  In addition, our insurance may be voidable by the insurers as a result of certain of our actions, such as our ships failing to maintain certification with applicable maritime self-regulatory organizations.  Further, we cannot assure you that our insurance policies will cover all losses that we incur, or that disputes over insurance claims will not arise with our insurance carriers.  Any claims covered by insurance would be subject to deductibles, and since it is possible that a large number of claims may be brought, the aggregate amount of these deductibles could be material.  In addition, our insurance policies are subject to limitations and exclusions, which may increase our costs or lower our revenues, thereby possibly having a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, and ability to pay dividends.

 

39

We are subject to funding calls by our protection and indemnity associations, and our associations may not have enough resources to cover claims made against them.  

 

We are indemnified for legal liabilities incurred while operating our vessels through membership in P&I Associations.  P&I Associations are mutual insurance associations whose members must contribute to cover losses sustained by other association members.  The objective of a P&I Association is to provide mutual insurance based on the aggregate tonnage of a member’s vessels entered into the association.  Claims are paid through the aggregate premiums of all members of the association, although members remain subject to calls for additional funds if the aggregate premiums are insufficient to cover claims submitted to the association. Claims submitted to the association may include those incurred by members of the association, as well as claims submitted to the association from other P&I Associations with which our P&I Association has entered into interassociation agreements.  We cannot assure you that the P&I Associations to which we belong will remain viable or that we will not become subject to additional funding calls which could adversely affect us.

 

We may have to pay U.S. tax on U.S. source income, which will reduce our net income and cash flows. 

 

If we do not qualify for an exemption pursuant to Section 883 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the “Code” (which we refer to as the “Section 883 exemption”), then we will be subject to U.S. federal income tax on our shipping income that is derived from U.S. sources.  If we are subject to such tax, our net income and cash flows would be reduced by the amount of such tax.

 

We will qualify for the Section 883 exemption if, among other things, (i) our stock is treated as primarily and regularly traded on an established securities market in the United States (which we refer to as the “publicly traded test”), or (ii) we satisfy the qualified shareholder test or (iii) we satisfy the controlled foreign corporation test (which we refer to as the “CFC test”).  Under applicable Treasury Regulations, the publicly-traded test cannot be satisfied in any taxable year in which persons who actually or constructively own 5% or more of our stock (which we sometimes refer to as “5% shareholders”), together own 50% or more of our stock (by vote and value) for more than half the days in such year (which we sometimes refer to as the “five percent override rule”), unless an exception applies.  A foreign corporation satisfies the qualified shareholder test if more than 50% of the value of its outstanding shares is owned (or treated as owned by applying certain attribution rules) for at least half of the number of days in the foreign corporation’s taxable year by one or more “qualified shareholders.”  A qualified shareholder includes a foreign corporation that, among other things, satisfies the publicly traded test.  A foreign corporation satisfies the CFC test if it is a “controlled foreign corporation” and one or more qualified U.S. persons own more than 50 percent of the total value of all the outstanding stock.

 

Based on the ownership and trading of our stock in 2019 and 2018, we believe that we satisfied the publicly traded test and qualified for the Section 883 exemption in 2019 and 2018. If we do not qualify for the Section 883 exemption, our U.S. source shipping income, i.e., 50% of our gross shipping income attributable to transportation beginning or ending in the U.S., would be subject to a 4% tax without allowance for deductions (which we sometimes refer to as the “U.S. gross transportation income tax”).  We can provide no assurance that changes and shifts in the ownership of our stock by 5% shareholders will not preclude us from qualifying for the Section 883 exemption in 2020 or future taxable years.

 

During 2017, based on the ownership and trading of our stock, we believe that we did not satisfy the publicly traded test, the qualified shareholder test, or the CFC test, and therefore did not qualify for the Section 883 exemption in 2017.  As such, during the year ended December 31, 2017, we recorded $0.4 million of estimated U.S. gross transportation tax which has been recorded in Voyage Expenses in the Consolidated Statements of Operations.  Refer to Note 2 – Summary of Significant Accounting Policies in our Consolidated Financial Statements for further information. 

 

To the extent Genco's U.S. source shipping income, or other U.S. source income, is considered to be effectively connected income, as described below, any such income, net of applicable deductions, would be subject to the U.S. federal corporate income tax, currently imposed at a 21% rate. In addition, Genco may be subject to a 30% "branch profits" tax on such income, and on certain interest paid or deemed paid attributable to the conduct of such trade or business.  Shipping income is generally sourced 100% to the United States if attributable to transportation exclusively

40

between United States ports (Genco is prohibited from conducting such voyages), 50% to the United States if attributable to transportation that begins or ends, but does not both begin and end, in the United States and otherwise 0% to the United States.

 

Genco's U.S. source shipping income would be considered effectively connected income only if:

 

Genco has, or is considered to have, a fixed place of business in the U.S. involved in the earning of U.S. source shipping income; and

 

substantially all of Genco's U.S. source shipping income is attributable to regularly scheduled transportation, such as the operation of a vessel that follows a published schedule with repeated sailings at regular intervals between the same points for voyages that begin or end in the U.S.

 

Genco does not intend to have, or permit circumstances that would result in having, any vessel sailing to or from the U.S. on a regularly scheduled basis. Based on the current shipping operations of Genco and Genco’s expected future shipping operations and other activities, Genco believes that none of its U.S. source shipping income will constitute effectively connected income. However, Genco may from time to time generate non-shipping income that may be treated as effectively connected income.

 

If Genco qualifies for the Section 883 exemption in respect of its shipping income, gain from the sale of a vessel likewise should be exempt from tax under Section 883 of the Code. If, however, Genco's shipping income does not, for whatever reason, qualify for the Section 883 exemption, and assuming that any gain derived from the sale of a vessel is attributable to Genco's U.S. office, as Genco believes would likely be the case, such gain would likely be treated as effectively connected income (determined under rules different from those discussed above) and subject to the net income and branch profits tax regime described above.

 

We established Genco Shipping Pte. Ltd. (“GSPL”), which is based in Singapore, on September 8, 2017.  GSPL applied for and was awarded the Maritime Sector Incentive – Approved International Shipping Enterprise (“MSI-AIS”) status under Section 13F of the Singapore Income Tax Act (“SITA”) by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.  The award is for an initial period of 10 years, commencing on August 15, 2018, and is subject to a review of performance at the end of the initial five year period.  The MSI-ASI status provides for a tax exemption on income derived by GSPL from qualifying shipping operations under Section 13F of the SITA.  Income from non-qualifying activities is taxable at the prevailing Singapore Corporate income tax rate (currently 17%).  During the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, GSPL did not record any income taxes. 

 

During 2018, we established Genco Shipping A/S, which is a Danish-incorporated corporation which is based in Copenhagen and considered to be a resident for tax purposes in Denmark.  Genco Shipping A/S is subject to corporate taxes in Denmark a rate of 22% during 2018.  During the year ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, Genco Shipping A/S recorded $0.2 million and $0.08 million of income tax which has been recorded in Other income (expense) in the Consolidated Statements of Operations in our Consolidated Financial Statements.

 

U.S. tax authorities could treat us as a “passive foreign investment company,” which could have adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. shareholders.

 

A foreign corporation generally will be treated as a “passive foreign investment company,” which we sometimes refer to as a PFIC, for U.S. federal income tax purposes if, after applying certain look through rules, either (1) at least 75% of its gross income for any taxable year consists of “passive income” or (2) at least 50% of the average value or adjusted bases of its assets (determined on a quarterly basis) produce or are held for the production of passive income, i.e., “passive assets.”  U.S. shareholders of a PFIC are subject to a disadvantageous U.S. federal income tax regime with respect to distributions they receive from the PFIC and gain, if any, they derive from the sale or other disposition of their stock in the PFIC.

 

For purposes of these tests, “passive income” generally includes dividends, interest, gains from the sale or exchange of investment property and rents and royalties other than rents and royalties which are received from unrelated

41

parties in connection with the active conduct of a trade or business, as defined in applicable Treasury Regulations.  Income derived from the performance of services does not constitute “passive income.” By contrast, rental income would generally constitute passive income unless such income was treated under specific rules as derived from the active conduct of a trade or business.  We do not believe that our past or existing operations would cause, or would have caused, us to be deemed a PFIC with respect to any taxable year.  In this regard, we treat the gross income we derive or are deemed to derive from our time and spot chartering activities as services income, rather than rental income.  Accordingly, we believe that (1) our income from our time and spot chartering activities does not constitute passive income and (2) the assets that we own and operate in connection with the production of that income do not constitute passive assets.

 

While there is no direct legal authority under the PFIC rules addressing our method of operation, there is legal authority supporting this position consisting of pronouncements by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (which we sometimes refer to as the “IRS”), concerning the characterization of income derived from time charters and voyage charters as services income for other tax purposes.  However, it should be noted that there is also legal authority, consisting of case law, which characterizes time charter income as rental income rather than services income for other tax purposes.

 

No assurance can be given that the IRS or a court of law will accept our position, and there is a risk that the IRS or a court of law could determine that we are a PFIC.  Moreover, there can be no assurance that we will not become a PFIC in any future taxable year because the PFIC test is an annual test, there are uncertainties in the application of the PFIC rules, and although we intend to manage our business so as to avoid PFIC status to the extent consistent with our other business goals, there could be changes in the nature and extent of our operations in future taxable years.

 

If we were to be treated as a PFIC for any taxable year (and regardless of whether we remain a PFIC for subsequent taxable years), our U.S. shareholders would face adverse U.S. tax consequences.  Under the PFIC rules, unless a shareholder makes certain elections available under the Code (which elections could themselves have adverse consequences for such shareholder), such shareholder would be liable to pay U.S. federal income tax at the highest applicable ordinary income tax rates upon the receipt of excess distributions and upon any gain from the disposition of our common stock, plus interest on such amounts, as if such excess distribution or gain had been recognized ratably over the shareholder’s holding period of our common stock.

 

Because we generate all of our revenues in U.S. dollars but incur a portion of our expenses in other currencies, exchange rate fluctuations could hurt our results of operations.

 

We generate all of our revenues in U.S. dollars, but we may incur drydocking costs, voyage expenses (including port costs, etc.), special survey fees and other expenses in other currencies.  If our expenditures on such costs and fees were significant, and the U.S. dollar were weak against such currencies, our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends could be adversely affected.

 

Legislative action relating to taxation could materially and adversely affect us.

 

Our tax position could be adversely impacted by changes in tax laws, tax treaties or tax regulations or the interpretation or enforcement thereof by any tax authority. We cannot predict the outcome of any specific legislative proposals. 

 

RISK FACTORS RELATED TO OUR COMMON STOCK

 

Certain shareholders own large portions of our outstanding common stock, which may limit your ability to influence our actions.

 

Certain shareholders currently hold significant percentages of our common stock. As of February 27, 2020,  affiliates of Centerbridge Partners, L.P. owned approximately 25%; affiliates of Apollo Global Management owned approximately 13%; and affiliates of Strategic Value Partners, LLC owned approximately 20% of our common stock.

 

42

To the extent a significant percentage of the ownership of our common stock is concentrated in a small number of holders, such holders will be able to influence the outcome of any shareholder vote, including the election of directors, the adoption or amendment of provisions in our articles of incorporation or by-laws and possible mergers, corporate control contests and other significant corporate transactions.  This concentration of ownership may have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a change in control, merger, consolidation, takeover or other business combination involving us.  This concentration of ownership could also discourage a potential acquirer from making a tender offer or otherwise attempting to obtain control of us, which could in turn have an adverse effect on the market price of our common stock.

 

Because we are a foreign corporation, you may not have the same rights or protections that a shareholder in a United States corporation may have.

 

We are incorporated in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which does not have a well-developed body of corporate law and may make it more difficult for our shareholders to protect their interests.  Our corporate affairs are governed by our amended and restated articles of incorporation and bylaws and the Marshall Islands Business Corporations Act, or BCA.  The provisions of the BCA resemble provisions of the corporation laws of a number of states in the United States.  The rights and fiduciary responsibilities of directors under the law of the Marshall Islands are not as clearly established as the rights and fiduciary responsibilities of directors under statutes or judicial precedent in existence in certain U.S. jurisdictions and there have been few judicial cases in the Marshall Islands interpreting the BCA.  Shareholder rights may differ as well.  While the BCA does specifically incorporate the non-statutory law, or judicial case law, of the State of Delaware and other states with substantially similar legislative provisions, our public shareholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in the face of actions by the management, directors or controlling shareholders than would shareholders of a corporation incorporated in a U.S. jurisdiction.  Therefore, you may have more difficulty in protecting your interests as a shareholder in the face of actions by the management, directors or controlling shareholders than would shareholders of a corporation incorporated in a United States jurisdiction.

 

Future sales of our common stock could cause the market price of our common stock to decline.

 

The market price of our common stock could decline due to sales of a large number of shares in the market, including sales of shares by our large shareholders, or the perception that these sales could occur.  These sales could also make it more difficult or impossible for us to sell equity securities in the future at a time and price that we deem appropriate to raise funds through future offerings of common stock. 

 

We entered into a registration rights agreement that provides parties who received 10% or more of our common stock in our reorganization with demand and piggyback registration rights. This agreement was amended and restated in connection with our $125 million equity raise to cover shares issued to Centerbridge, SVP, and Apollo.  We entered into an additional registration rights agreement that required us to file a resale registration statement to cover the shares issued in such equity raise.  Such registration statement became effective on January 18, 2017 with respect to the resale of 27,061,856 shares of our common stock. 

 

We may need to raise additional capital in the future, which may not be available on favorable terms or at all or which may dilute our common stock or adversely affect its market price.

 

We may require additional capital to expand our business and increase revenues, add liquidity in response to negative economic conditions, meet unexpected liquidity needs caused by industry volatility or uncertainty and reduce our outstanding indebtedness under our existing facilities. To the extent that our existing capital and borrowing capabilities are insufficient to meet these requirements and cover any losses, we will need to raise additional funds through debt or equity financings, including offerings of our common stock, securities convertible into our common stock, or rights to acquire our common stock or curtail our growth and reduce our assets or restructure arrangements with existing security holders. Any equity or debt financing, or additional borrowings, if available at all, may be on terms that are not favorable to us. Equity financings could result in dilution to our stockholders, as described further below, and the securities issued in future financings may have rights, preferences and privileges that are senior to those of our common stock. If our need for capital arises because of significant losses, the occurrence of these losses may make it more difficult for us to raise the necessary capital. If we cannot raise funds on acceptable terms if and when needed, we may

43

not be able to take advantage of future opportunities, grow our business or respond to competitive pressures or unanticipated requirements.

 

Future issuances of our common stock could dilute our shareholders’ interests in our company.

 

We may, from time to time, issue additional shares of common stock to support our growth strategy, reduce debt or provide us with capital for other purposes that our Board of Directors believes to be in our best interest.  To the extent that an existing shareholder does not purchase additional shares that we may issue, that shareholder’s interest in our company will be diluted, which means that its percentage of ownership in our company will be reduced.  Following such a reduction, that shareholder’s common stock would represent a smaller percentage of the vote in our Board of Directors’ elections and other shareholder decisions.

 

Volatility in the market price and trading volume of our common stock could adversely impact the trading price of our common stock.

 

The stock market in recent years has experienced significant price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of companies like us. These broad market factors may materially reduce the market price of our common stock, regardless of our operating performance. The market price of our common stock, which has experienced significant price and volume fluctuations in recent months, could continue to fluctuate significantly for many reasons, including in response to the risks described herein or for reasons unrelated to our operations, such as reports by industry analysts, investor perceptions or negative announcements by our competitors or suppliers regarding their own performance, as well as industry conditions and general financial, economic and political instability. A decrease in the market price of our common stock would adversely impact the value of your shares of common stock.

 

Provisions of our amended and restated articles of incorporation and by-laws may have anti-takeover effects which could adversely affect the market price of our common stock.

 

Several provisions of our amended and restated articles of incorporation and by-laws, which are summarized below, may have anti-takeover effects.  These provisions are intended to avoid costly takeover battles, lessen our vulnerability to a hostile change of control and enhance the ability of our Board of Directors to maximize shareholder value in connection with any unsolicited offer to acquire our company.  However, these anti-takeover provisions could also discourage, delay or prevent (1) the merger or acquisition of our company by means of a tender offer, a proxy contest or otherwise that a shareholder may consider in its best interest and (2) the removal of incumbent officers and directors.

 

Election and Removal of Directors.

 

Our amended and restated articles of incorporation prohibit cumulative voting in the election of directors.  Our by-laws require parties other than the board of directors to give advance written notice of nominations for the election of directors.  These provisions may discourage, delay or prevent the removal of incumbent officers and directors.

 

Limited Actions by Shareholders.

 

Our amended and restated articles of incorporation and our by-laws provide that, consistent with Marshall Islands law, any action required or permitted to be taken by our shareholders must be affected at an annual or special meeting of shareholders or by the unanimous written consent of our shareholders.  Our amended and restated articles of incorporation and our by-laws provide that, subject to certain exceptions, our Chairman, President, or Secretary at the direction of the Board of Directors or our Secretary at the request of one or more shareholders that hold in the aggregate at least a majority of our outstanding shares entitled to vote may call special meetings of our shareholders, and the business transacted at the special meeting is limited to the purposes stated in the notice.

 

44

Advance Notice Requirements for Shareholder Proposals and Director Nominations.

 

Our by-laws provide that shareholders seeking to nominate candidates for election as directors or to bring business before an annual meeting of shareholders must provide timely notice of their proposal in writing to the corporate secretary.  Generally, to be timely, a shareholder’s notice must be received at our principal executive offices not less than 120 days nor more than 150 days before the anniversary date of the immediately preceding annual meeting of shareholders.  Our by-laws also specify requirements as to the form and content of a shareholder’s notice.  These provisions may impede a shareholder’s ability to bring matters before an annual meeting of shareholders or make nominations for directors at an annual meeting of shareholders.

 

It may not be possible for our investors to enforce U.S. judgments against us.

 

We are incorporated in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and most of our subsidiaries are also organized in the Marshall Islands.  Substantially all of our assets and those of our subsidiaries are located outside the United States.  As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for United States shareholders to serve process within the United States upon us or to enforce judgment upon us for civil liabilities in United States courts.  In addition, you should not assume that courts in the countries in which we are incorporated or where our assets are located (1) would enforce judgments of United States courts obtained in actions against us based upon the civil liability provisions of applicable United States federal and state securities laws or (2) would enforce, in original actions, liabilities against us based upon these laws.

 

Security breaches and other disruptions to our information technology infrastructure could interfere with our operations and expose us to liability which could materially adversely impact our business.

 

In the ordinary course of business, we rely on information technology networks and systems, some of which are managed by third parties, to process, transmit, and store electronic information, and to manage or support a variety of business processes and activities. Additionally, we collect and store certain data, including proprietary business information and customer and employee data, and may have access to confidential information in the conduct of our business. Despite our cybersecurity measures (including monitoring of networks and systems, and maintenance of backup and protective systems) which are continuously reviewed and upgraded, our information technology networks and infrastructure may still be vulnerable to damage, disruptions, or shutdowns due to attack by hackers or breaches, employee error or malfeasance, power outages, computer viruses, telecommunication or utility failures, systems failures, natural disasters, or other catastrophic events. Any such events could result in legal claims or proceedings, liability or penalties under privacy laws, disruption in operations, and damage to our reputation, which could materially adversely affect our business.   

 

ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

 

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 2. PROPERTIES

 

We do not own any real property.  Effective April 4, 2011, we entered into a seven-year sub-sublease agreement for our main office in New York, New York.  The term of the sub-sublease commenced June 1, 2011, with a free base rental period until October 31, 2011. Following the expiration of the free base rental period, the monthly base rental payments were $0.1 million per month until May 31, 2015 and thereafter were $0.1 million per month until the end of the seven-year term.  We also entered into a direct lease with the over-landlord of such office space that commenced immediately upon the expiration of such sub-sublease agreement, for a term covering the period from May 1, 2018 to September 30, 2025; the direct lease provided for a free base rental period from May 1, 2018 to September 30, 2018.  Following the expiration of the free base rental period, the monthly base rental payments are $0.2 million per month from October 1, 2018 to April 30, 2023 and $0.2 million per month from May 1, 2023 to September 30, 2025.   

 

45

Future minimum rental payments on the above lease for the next five years and thereafter are as follows:  $2.2 million annually for 2020 through 2022, $2.4 million for 2023, $2.5 million for 2024 and a total of $1.8 million for the remaining term of the lease.

 

On June 14, 2019, we entered into a sublease agreement for a portion of this leased space for our main office in New York, New York that commenced on July 26, 2019 and will end on September 29, 2025.  There is a free base rental period for the first four and a half months commencing on July 26, 2019.  Following the expiration of the free base rental period, the monthly base sublease income will be $0.1 million per month until September 29, 2025. 

 

In addition, during October 2017 we entered into a lease for office space in Singapore that expired in January 2019.  A lease was signed for a new office space in Singapore effective January 17, 2019 for a three-year term.

 

Lastly, during July 2018, we entered into a lease for office space in Copenhagen which commenced on July 1, 2018 and ended on April 30, 2019.  A lease was signed for a new office space in Copenhagen effective May 1, 2019 for a minimum period ending May 1, 2023.

 

For a description of our vessels, see “Our Fleet” in Item 1, “Business” in this report.  All of the vessels in our current fleet serve as collateral under our credit facilities.  Please see “Liquidity and Capital Resources” and “Critical Accounting Policies — Vessels and Depreciation” in Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operation” for a further description.  The foregoing descriptions are incorporated into this Item 2 by reference.

 

We consider each of our significant properties to be suitable for its intended use.

 

ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

 

We are not involved in any other legal proceedings that we believe are likely to have, or have had a significant effect on our business, financial position, results of operations or cash flows, nor are we aware of any proceedings that are pending or threatened which we believe are likely to have a significant effect on our business, financial position, results of operations or liquidity.  From time to time, we may be subject to legal proceedings and claims in the ordinary course of business, principally personal injury and property casualty claims.  We expect that these claims would be covered by insurance, subject to customary deductibles.  Those claims, even if lacking merit, could result in the expenditure of significant financial and managerial resources.

 

ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

 

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

 

MARKET INFORMATION, HOLDERS AND DIVIDENDS

 

Our common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) under the symbol “GNK.”

 

As of February 27, 2020, there were approximately 18 holders of record of our common stock.

 

Our Board of Directors has adopted a quarterly dividend policy to pay a dividend of $0.175 per share, and the first quarterly dividend under this policy was announced on November 6, 2019, together with a special dividend of $0.325 per share.  Our quarterly dividend policy and declaration and payment of dividends are subject to legally available funds, compliance with law and contractual obligations and our Board of Directors’ determination that each declaration and payment is in the best interest of the Company and our shareholders. 

 

46

For a discussion of restrictions applicable to our payment of dividends, please see “Liquidity and Capital Resources—Dividends” in Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operation” below.

 

PART II

 

ITEM 6. SELECTED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL AND OTHER DATA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Years Ended December 31,

 

 

    

2019

 

2018

 

2017

    

2016

 

2015

    

Income Statement Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(U.S. dollars in thousands except for share and per share amounts)

 

 

 

 

Revenues:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voyage revenues

 

$

389,496

 

$

367,522

 

$

209,698

 

$

133,246

 

$

150,784

 

Service revenues

 

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

 

2,340

 

 

3,175

 

Total revenues

 

$

389,496

 

$

367,522

 

$

209,698

 

$

135,586

 

$

153,959

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating Expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voyage expenses

 

 

173,043

 

 

114,855

 

 

25,321

 

 

13,227

 

 

20,257

 

Vessel operating expenses

 

 

96,209

 

 

97,427

 

 

98,086

 

 

113,636

 

 

122,008

 

Charter hire expenses

 

 

16,179

 

 

1,534

 

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

General and administrative expenses (inclusive of nonvested stock amortization expense of $2,057, $2,231, $4,053, $20,680 and $42,136, respectively) (3)

 

 

24,516

 

 

23,141

 

 

22,190

 

 

45,174

 

 

74,941

 

Technical management fees (3)

 

 

7,567

 

 

8,000

 

 

7,659

 

 

8,932

 

 

8,961

 

Depreciation and amortization

 

 

72,824