|Item 17 O Item 18 O|
|Item 1. Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers|
|Item 2. Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable|
|Item 3. Key Information|
|Item 4. Information on The Company|
|Item 4A. Unresolved Staff Comments|
|Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects|
|Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees|
|Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions|
|Item 8. Financial Information|
|Item 9. The Offer and Listing.|
|Item 10. Additional Information|
|Item 11. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk|
|Item 12. Description of Securities Other Than Equity Securities|
|Item 13. Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies|
|Item 14. Material Modifications To The Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds|
|Item 15. Controls and Procedures|
|Item 16A. Audit Committee Financial Expert|
|Item 16B. Code of Ethics|
|Item 16C. Principal Accountant Fees and Services|
|Item 16D. Exemptions From The Listing Standards for Audit Committees|
|Item 16E. Purchases of Equity Securities By The Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers|
|Item 16F. Change in Registrant's Certifying Accountant|
|Item 16G. Corporate Governance|
|Item 16H. Mine Safety Disclosure|
|Item 17. Financial Statements|
|Item 18. Financial Statements|
|Item 19. Exhibits|
|Balance Sheet||Income Statement||Cash Flow|
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
|o||REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
|x||ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019
|o||TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
|o||SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
Date of event requiring this shell company report
For the transition period from _________ to
Commission file number: 001-34153
Global Ship Lease, Inc.
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
(Translation of Registrant’s name into English)
Republic of The Marshall Islands
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
25 Wilton Road, London SW1V 1LW, United Kingdom
(Address of principal executive offices)
Ian J. Webber, Chief Executive Officer, 25 Wilton Road, London SW1V 1LW, United Kingdom
Tel number: + 44 (0) 20 3998 0063
(Name, Telephone, Email and/or Facsimile Number and Address of Company Contact Person)
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act.
|Title of each class||Trading Symbol(s)||Name of each exchange on which registered|
|Class A Common Shares, par value of $0.01 per share||GSL||New York Stock Exchange|
|Depositary Shares, each of which represents a 1/100th interest in a share of 8.75% Series B Cumulative Redeemable Perpetual Preferred Shares, par value $0.01 per share||GSL-B||New York Stock Exchange|
|8.75% Series B Cumulative Redeemable Perpetual Preferred Shares*||N/A*||N/A*|
|8.00% Senior Unsecured Notes due 2024||GSLD||New York Stock Exchange|
|*||Not for trading, but only in connection with the registration of the Depositary Shares representing 1/100th interest in such shares of 8.75% Series B Cumulative Redeemable Perpetual Preferred Shares, pursuant to the requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission.|
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act: None
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.
17,556,738 Class A common shares, par value of $0.01 per share
14,428 Series B Cumulative Redeemable Perpetual Preferred Shares, par value of $0.01 per share
250,000 Series C Perpetual Preferred Shares, par value of $0.01 per share
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes o No x
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Yes o No x
Note – Checking the box above will not relieve any registrant required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 from their obligations under those Sections.
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 x No o
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 x No o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
|Large accelerated filer||o||Accelerated filer||o|
|Non-accelerated filer||x||Emerging growth company||o|
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, 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. o
|†||The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.|
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
|U.S. GAAP x|| |
International Financial Reporting Standards as Issued
by the International Accounting Standards Board o
If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.
Item 17 o Item 18 o
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes o No x
GLOBAL SHIP LEASE, INC.
INDEX TO ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 20-F
|Item 1.||Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers||2|
|Item 2.||Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable||2|
|Item 3.||Key Information||2|
|Item 4.||Information on the Company||36|
|Item 4A.||Unresolved Staff Comments||56|
|Item 5.||Operating and Financial Review and Prospects||56|
|Item 6.||Directors, Senior Management and Employees||79|
|Item 7.||Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions||87|
|Item 8.||Financial Information||95|
|Item 9.||The Offer and Listing.||96|
|Item 10.||Additional Information||95|
|Item 11.||Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk||107|
|Item 12.||Description of Securities Other than Equity Securities||108|
|Item 13.||Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies||108|
|Item 14.||Material Modifications to the Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds||108|
|Item 15.||Controls and Procedures||108|
|Item 16A.||Audit Committee Financial Expert||110|
|Item 16B.||Code of Ethics||110|
|Item 16C.||Principal Accountant Fees and Services||110|
|Item 16D.||Exemptions from the Listing Standards for Audit Committees||111|
|Item 16E.||Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers||111|
|Item 16F.||Change in Registrant’s Certifying Accountant||111|
|Item 16G.||Corporate Governance||111|
|Item 16H.||Mine Safety Disclosure||112|
|Item 17.||Financial Statements||112|
|Item 18.||Financial Statements||112|
CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report contains forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements provide our current expectations or forecasts of future events. Forward-looking statements include statements about our expectations, beliefs, plans, objectives, intentions, assumptions and other statements that are not historical facts. Words or phrases such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “ongoing,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “will” or similar words or phrases, or the negatives of those words or phrases, may identify forward-looking statements, but the absence of these words does not necessarily mean that a statement is not forward-looking. Examples of forward-looking statements in this Annual Report include, but are not limited to, statements regarding our disclosure concerning our operations, cash flows, financial position, dividend policy, the anticipated benefits of our strategic transaction with Poseidon Containers, and the likelihood of success in acquiring additional vessels to expand our business.
Forward-looking statements appear in a number of places in this Annual Report including, without limitation, in the sections entitled “Business Overview,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Conditions and Operations,” and “Dividend Policy.”
Forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties and are based on potentially inaccurate assumptions that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expected or implied by the forward-looking statements. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in forward-looking statements for many reasons, including the factors described in “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report. The risks described under “Risk Factors” are not exhaustive. Other sections of this Annual Report describe additional factors that could adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition, liquidity and the development of the industries in which we operate. New risks can emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for us to predict all such risks, nor can we assess the impact of all such risks on our business or the extent to which any risks, or combination of risks and other factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. Accordingly, you should not unduly rely on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this Annual Report. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement to reflect circumstances or events after the date of this Annual Report or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. You should, however, review the factors and risks we describe in the reports we will file from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or “SEC,” after the date of this Annual Report.
Unless the context otherwise requires, references to the “Company,” “we,” “us,” “our” or “Global Ship Lease” refer to Global Ship Lease, Inc.; “CMA CGM” refers to CMA CGM S.A., currently our principal charterer; “Poseidon Containers” refers to Poseidon Containers Holdings LLC and K&T Marine LLC, collectively, Technomar Shipping Inc (“Technomar”) refers to our ship technical manager and ConChart Commercial Inc (“Conchart”) refers to one of our commercial ship managers. For the definition of certain terms used in this Annual Report, please see “Glossary of Shipping Terms” at the end of this Annual Report. Unless otherwise indicated, all references to “$” and “dollars” in this Annual Report are in U.S. dollars. We use the term “TEU”, meaning twenty-foot equivalent unit, the international standard measure of container size, in describing volumes in world container trade and other measures, including the capacity of our containerships, which we also refer to as vessels or ships. Unless otherwise indicated, we calculate the average age of our vessels on a weighted average basis, based on TEU capacity.
On November 15, 2018, we completed a strategic combination with Poseidon Containers, acquiring 20 containerships, one of which, the Argos, was contracted to be sold, which sale was completed in December 2018, which we refer to herein as the “Poseidon Transaction”. References herein to the “GSL Fleet” are to the 19 ships that were owned by us prior to the consummation of the Poseidon Transaction and references to the “Poseidon Fleet” are to the 19 vessels that were acquired by us upon consummation of the Poseidon Transaction, excluding the Argos, which was subsequently sold.
All share and per share amounts disclosed in this Annual Report give retroactive effect, for all periods presented, to the one-for-eight reverse stock split of our Class A common shares effected on March 25, 2019.
|Item 1.||Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers|
|Item 2.||Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable|
|Item 3.||Key Information|
A. Selected Financial Data
The following table sets forth our selected consolidated financial and other data as of and for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015, which is derived from our audited consolidated financial statements which have been prepared in accordance with United States generally accepted accounting principles (“U.S. GAAP”). Our audited consolidated statements of operations and statements of cash flows for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017 and our audited consolidated balance sheets as of December 31, 2019 and 2018, together with the notes thereto, are included in this Annual Report. Our audited consolidated statements of income and cash flows for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015 and our audited consolidated balance sheets as of December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, and the notes thereto, are not included herein.
You should read the information set forth below in conjunction with “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—A. Operating Results—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our audited consolidated financial statements and notes thereto.
|(Expressed in millions of U.S. dollars, except for per share data)|
|Statement of Operations|
|Time charter revenue||$||261.1||$||157.1||$||159.3||$||166.8||$||165.3|
|Vessel operating expenses||(87.8||)||(49.3||)||(42.7||)||(45.4||)||(48.9||)|
|Time charter and voyage expenses||(9.0||)||(1.6||)||(1.0||)||(0.7||)||(1.6||)|
|Depreciation and amortization||(43.9||)||(35.5||)||(38.0||)||(42.8||)||(44.9||)|
|General and administrative expenses||(8.8||)||(9.2||)||(5.4||)||(6.2||)||(6.5||)|
|Impairment of vessels||—||(71.8||)||(87.6||)||(92.4||)||(44.7||)|
|Total operating expenses||(149.5||)||(167.4||)||(174.7||)||(187.5||)||(146.6||)|
|Operating Income / (Loss)||111.6||(10.3||)||(15.4||)||(20.7||)||18.7|
|Non-operating income (expenses)|
|Interest and other financial expenses||(75.0||)||(48.7||)||(59.4||)||(44.8||)||(48.2||)|
|Other income, net||1.5||0.3||0.1||0.2||0.6|
|Income / (Loss) before income taxes||39.9||(57.3||)||(74.2||)||(65.1||)||(28.8||)|
|Net Income / (Loss)||39.9||(57.3||)||(74.2||)||(65.1||)||(28.8||)|
|Earnings allocated to Series B Preferred Shares||(3.1||)||(3.1||)||(3.1||)||(3.1||)||(3.1||)|
|Net Income / (Loss) available to common shareholders(2)||36.8||(60.4||)||(77.3||)||(68.2||)||(31.9||)|
|Net Income / (Loss) per Class A common share in $|
|Basic and diluted||1.48||(7.42||)||(12.89||)||(11.39||)||(5.36||)|
|Weighted average number of Class A common shares outstanding|
|Basic in millions||11.9||6.5||6.0||6.0||6.0|
|Diluted in millions||11.9||6.5||6.0||6.0||6.0|
|Net income per Class B common share in $|
|Basic and diluted||Nil||Nil||Nil||Nil||Nil|
|Weighted average number of Class B common shares outstanding|
|Basic and diluted in millions||Nil||0.9||0.9||0.9||0.9|
|Dividend per Class A common share in $||—||—||—||—||0.02|
|Statement of cash flow|
|Net cash provided by Operating Activities||93.3||47.7||66.9||71.6||62.3|
|Net cash (used in)/provided by Investing Activities||(99.9||)||24.3||(4.9||)||(6.9||)||(101.2||)|
|Net cash provided by/(used in) Financing Activities||64.1||(55.2||)||(42.9||)||(64.1||)||59.2|
|Balance sheet data (at year end)|
|Total current assets||161.9||99.0||77.4||57.1||57.6|
|Total vessels in operation||1,155.6||1,112.8||586.5||707.3||838.4|
|Debt (current and non-current portion), net||896.9||877.2||398.5||419.9||478.1|
|Class B and C Preferred Shares||—||—||—||—||—|
|Class A and B common shares||0.2||0.1||0.1||0.1||0.1|
|Number of vessels in operation at year end||43||38||18||18||18|
|(1)||On November 15, 2018, we completed the Poseidon Transaction. The consideration given for the acquisition of the net assets was 3,005,603 Class A common shares and 250,000 Series C perpetual convertible preferred shares of par value $0.01 (the “Series C Preferred Shares”). Each Series C preferred share carries 38.75 votes and they are convertible in certain circumstances to a total of approximately 13.0 million Class A common shares.|
|(2)||On January 2, 2019, as a consequence of the completion of the Poseidon Transaction, all of our issued and outstanding Class B common shares converted one-for-one into Class A common shares. On March 25, 2019, we effected a one-for-eight reverse stock split of our Class A common shares, which our shareholders authorized at our special meeting of shareholders held on March 20, 2019. There was no change to the par value of our Class A common shares in connection with the reverse stock split. All share and per share amounts disclosed in this Annual Report give effect to the reverse stock split retroactively, for all periods presented, which resulted in the number of issued and outstanding Class A common shares reducing from 79,543,921 to 9,942,950.|
B. Capitalization and Indebtedness
C. Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds
D. Risk Factors
Risks Relating to Our Business
We are dependent on our charterers, particularly CMA CGM, and other counterparties fulfilling their obligations under agreements with us, and their inability or unwillingness to honor these obligations could significantly reduce our revenues and cash flow.
Payments to us by our charterers under time charters are, and will continue to be, our sole source of operating cash flow. As at December 31, 2019, 17 of our 43 vessels were chartered to CMA CGM. CMA CGM’s payments to us under these charters are an important source of operating revenue. We are consequently highly dependent on the performance by CMA CGM of its obligations under these charters. The container shipping industry is cyclical and, whilst financial performance improved from time to time, has been suffering an extended cyclical downturn since mid-2008, with freight rates, charter rates, asset values, and liner operator earnings under pressure due to oversupply of container ship capacity. Industry conditions improved through 2017 and into the first half of 2018, with weakness in short term market charter rates being seen in the second half of 2018. Full year growth in container volume in 2019 is estimated at 2.0%, despite negative sentiment resulting from trade tensions between the U.S. and China. More recently, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is expected to have a negative effect on global container trade which is likely, in turn, to impact our charterers’ operating cash flows. This, together with the global disruption to administrative efficiency that is likely to be caused by companies quarantining employees and shifting to working from home on an unprecedented scale, may result in delays in us receiving charter hire payments. If we lose a time charter because the charterer is unable to pay us or for any other reason, we may be unable to re-deploy the related vessel on similar terms or at all. Also, we will not receive any revenues from such a vessel while it is un-chartered, but we will be required to pay expenses necessary to maintain and insure the vessel and service any indebtedness on it.
Whilst there were no delays in receiving charterhire payments in 2018 or 2019, we have previously experienced, from time to time, delays in receiving charterhire payments from CMA CGM, which under the charter contracts are due to be paid two weeks in advance. As of December 31, 2019, no charterhire payments were outstanding.
If CMA CGM, or any other of our charterers, ceases doing business or fails to perform its obligations under our charters, our business, financial position and results of operations would be materially adversely affected by reduced operating cashflow. If vessels were redelivered to us prior to the scheduled expiration of their respective charters, it is probable that, even if we were able to find replacement charters, such replacement charters would be at significantly lower daily rates and for shorter durations. If such events occur, these events may give rise to uncertainty about our ability to continue as a going concern. Please also see “—We may be unable to recharter our vessels at profitable rates, if at all, upon their time charter expiry” below.
We may not realize all of the anticipated benefits of our recent strategic transaction with Poseidon Containers.
On November 15, 2018, we completed the Poseidon Transaction, a strategic combination with Poseidon Containers whereby we acquired Poseidon Containers, including its fleet of 20 containerships, one of which was contracted to be sold, the sale of which was completed in December 2018. On the closing of the Poseidon Transaction, we issued 3,005,603 Class A common shares and 250,000 Series C Preferred Shares, which are convertible into 12,955,187 Class A common shares upon the occurrence of certain events, to the unitholders of Poseidon Containers and assumed the debt of Poseidon Containers, which amounted to $509.7 million as of November 15, 2018.
There is a risk that some or all of the expected benefits of the Poseidon Transaction may fail to materialize, or may not occur within the time periods anticipated. The realization of such benefits may be affected by a number of factors, many of which are beyond our control, including but not limited to the strength or weakness of the economy and competitive factors in the areas where we do business, the effects of competition in the markets in which we operate, and the impact of changes in the laws and regulations regulating the container shipping industry. The challenge of coordinating previously separate businesses makes evaluating our business and future financial prospects following the Poseidon Transaction difficult. Our ability to realize anticipated benefits and cost savings will depend, in part, on our ability to successfully integrate the operations of both us and Poseidon Containers in a manner that results in various benefits, including, among other things, an expanded market reach and operating efficiencies, and that does not materially disrupt existing relationships nor result in decreased revenues or dividends. The past financial performance of each of Global Ship Lease and Poseidon Containers may not be indicative of their future financial performance. Realization of the anticipated benefits of the Poseidon Transaction will depend, in part, on our ability to successfully integrate our business. We have devoted, and expect to continue to devote, significant management attention and resources to integrating business practices and support functions. The diversion of management’s attention and any delays or difficulties encountered relating to the Poseidon Transaction and the coordination of the two companies’ operations could have an adverse effect on our business, financial results, financial condition or our share price. The consummation of the Poseidon Transaction and the integration of Poseidon Containers with our business may also result in additional and unforeseen expenses. Failure to realize all of the anticipated benefits of the Poseidon Transaction may impact our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Significant demands have been, and will continue to be, placed on us as a result of the Poseidon Transaction.
As a result of the completion of the Poseidon Transaction, significant demands have been, and will continue to be, placed on our managerial, operational and financial personnel and systems. We cannot assure you that our systems, procedures and controls will be adequate to support the expansion of operations resulting from the Poseidon Transaction. Our future operating results will be affected by the ability of our officers and key employees to manage changing business conditions and to implement and expand our operational and financial controls and reporting systems as a result of the Poseidon Transaction.
We are dependent on third parties, some of which are related parties, to manage our ships and substantial fees will be payable to our ship managers regardless of our profitability.
All of our vessels are technically managed by Technomar, a company of which our Executive Chairman is the majority beneficial owner, under ship management contracts whereby, for an annual management fee, the manager provides all day-to-day ship technical management, including crewing, purchasing stores, lubricating oils and spare parts, paying wages, pensions and insurance for the crew, and organizing other vessel operating necessities, including the arrangement and management of drydocking.
Additionally, as of the date of this report, all of our vessels are directly or indirectly commercially managed by Conchart, a company of which our Executive Chairman is the sole beneficial owner. The services provided by Conchart, as our commercial manager, include chartering, sale and purchase and post-fixture administration.
The fees and expenses payable pursuant to our technical and commercial ship management agreements will be payable without regard to our business, results of operation and financial condition and we have limited rights to terminate our management agreements. The payment of fees to our managers could adversely affect our results of operations and ability to pay dividends.
Our third-party ship managers are privately-held companies and there is little or no publicly available information about them.
The ability of Technomar and Conchart to render technical and commercial ship management services will depend in part on their own financial strength. Circumstances beyond our control could impair our third-party ship managers’ financial strength, and because each is a privately held company, information about the financial strength of our third-party ship managers is not available. As a result, we and our shareholders might have little or no advance warning of financial or other problems affecting our third-party ship managers even though their financial or other problems could have a material adverse effect on us.
Technomar, Conchart and CMA CGM may have conflicts of interest with us which may make them favor their own interests to our detriment.
Our Executive Chairman is the Founder, Managing Director, and majority beneficial owner of Technomar and the sole beneficial owner of ConChart. As of the date of this report, CMA CGM, holds approximately 11.2% of our voting power and has nominated two members of our Board of Directors. Accordingly, CMA CGM, our principal charterer, and affiliates of Technomar and Conchart, our third-party ship managers, have the power to exert considerable influence over our actions. These relationships could create conflicts of interest between us and our third-party ship managers and principal charterer. Under our amended and restated bylaws, in order for the approval of contracts or transactions involving a related party not to be voidable (1) any interested director’s relationship or interest as to the contract or transaction must be disclosed to the board of directors, and such contract or transaction must be authorized by a majority of the disinterested directors (or, in certain cases, all of the disinterested directors) or (2) the contract or transaction must be specifically approved in good faith by vote of the shareholders. Furthermore, our corporate governance guidelines require a director with a personal interest in a matter being approved by the board of directors to disclose the interest, to recuse himself or herself from participation in the discussion and to not vote on the matter.
Such conflicts of interest may arise in connection with the chartering, purchase, sale and operations of the vessels in our fleet versus vessels managed or owned by other companies affiliated with our third-party ship managers or principal charterer. As a result of these conflicts, our third-party ship managers or our principal charterer may favor their own or their affiliates’ interests over our interests. These conflicts may have unfavorable consequences for us. Although Technomar and Conchart have entered into a non-competition agreement with us, conflicts of interest may arise between us and our third-party ship managers and principal charterer, and such conflicts may not be resolved in our favor and could have an adverse effect on our results of operations.
Our financial reporting is partly dependent on information provided by our third-party ship managers and on accounting and financial reporting services provided by Technomar.
Our ship managers are obliged to provide us with requisite financial information on a timely basis so that we can meet our own reporting obligations under U.S. securities laws. Furthermore, the accounting and financial reporting for Poseidon Containers is provided by Technomar, under an administrative support section of the ship management contracts. All accounting and financial reporting for the legacy Global Ship Lease entities transitioned to Technomar during the year ended December 31, 2019. Technomar is a privately held company with financial reporting arrangements different from ours. If it is delayed in providing us with key financial information, or it otherwise fails to meet its obligations under the administrative support section of the ship management agreements, we could fail to meet our financial reporting deadlines, which could lead to regulatory sanctions being imposed on us and cause us to default on reporting covenants under our financing agreements. Any such results may have a material adverse effect on our results of operation, financial condition and reputation.
Certain terms in our agreements with CMA CGM may be the result of negotiations that were not conducted at arms-length and may not reflect market standard terms. Accordingly, they may include terms that may not be obtained from future negotiations with unaffiliated third parties.
Our charter agreements with CMA CGM and certain other contractual agreements were entered into when we were a wholly-owned subsidiary of CMA CGM in the context of a proposed public offering of our Class A common shares in 2007, and subsequently the 2008 merger of Marathon Acquisition Corp. (“Marathon”) and Global Ship Lease, with and into GSL Holdings, Inc., Marathon’s newly-formed wholly-owned Marshall Islands subsidiary, with GSL Holdings, Inc. (now renamed Global Ship Lease, Inc.) continuing as the surviving company incorporated in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (collectively, the “Marathon Merger”), and other related transactions. We have subsequently agreed to amendments of and extensions to a number of the charters we have with CMA CGM. Our agreements with CMA CGM may include terms that could not have been obtained and may not be attainable in the future from arms-length negotiations with unaffiliated third parties for similar services and assets.
Our growth depends on continued growth in the demand for containerships, our ability to purchase additional vessels and obtain new charters. We will require additional financing to be able to grow and will face substantial competition.
One of our objectives is to grow by acquiring additional vessels and chartering them out to container shipping companies. The opportunity to acquire additional containerships will in part depend on the state of and prospects for container shipping. The container shipping industry is both cyclical and volatile in terms of supply demand balance, freight rates and charter rates and overall profitability. By and large, the industry has been under pressure since 2008, with an excess of supply of containership capacity and mediocre demand growth. The factors affecting the supply and demand for containerships, and the nature, timing and degree of changes in industry conditions are unpredictable.
Acquisition of vessels will be challenging as, among other things, we may need to obtain additional financing in order to complete vessel purchases. Due to the continuing effects of the economic downturn and the severe cyclical downturn in the container shipping industry, financing for investment in containerships, whether newbuildings or existing vessels, is severely limited. Further, the cost of available financing has increased significantly. In addition, in recent years, the number of lenders for shipping companies has decreased and lenders have generally lowered their loan-to-value advance ratios, shortened loan terms and accelerated repayment schedules. The actual or perceived credit quality of our charterers and proposed charterers, and any defaults by them, may materially affect our ability to obtain the additional capital resources that we will require to purchase additional vessels or may significantly increase our costs of obtaining such capital. These factors may hinder our ability to access financing and we may be unable to obtain adequate funding for growth.
The process of obtaining further vessels and new charters is highly competitive and depends on a variety of factors relating to the vessel owner, including:
|·||competitiveness of overall price;|
|·||availability of committed financing;|
|·||containership leasing experience and quality of ship operations (including cost effectiveness);|
|·||shipping industry relationships and reputation for reliability, customer service and safety;|
|·||quality and experience of seafaring crew;|
|·||ability to finance containerships at competitive rates and financial stability generally;|
|·||relationships with shipyards and the ability to get suitable berths for newbuildings; and|
|·||construction management experience, including the ability to obtain on-time delivery of new vessels according to customer specifications.|
We will face substantial competition in expanding our business from a number of experienced companies. Many of these competitors may have greater financial resources and a lower cost of capital than us, may operate larger fleets, may have been established for longer and may be able to offer better charter rates. During any industry downturn there are an increased number of vessels available for charter, including many from owners with strong reputation and experience. Excess supply of vessels in the container shipping market results in greater price competition for charters. As a result of these factors, we may be unable to purchase additional containerships, expand our relationships with our existing charterers or obtain new charters on a profitable basis, if at all, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Certain shareholders may have the power to exert significant influence over us, and their interests could conflict with the interests of our other shareholders.
According to information contained in public filings, KEP VI (Newco Marine) Ltd. and KIA VIII (Newco Marine) Ltd., both affiliates of Kelso & Company, a U.S. private equity firm, hereafter referred to as Kelso, controls approximately 36.1% of the vote on any matter submitted to the vote of our common shareholders, through its ownership of Series C Preferred Shares and by virtue of a voting agreement with certain other of our shareholders. In September 2019, we entered into a letter agreement with Kelso whereby Kelso agreed to convert all of its outstanding Series C Preferred Shares into Class A common shares upon the repayment in full of our 9.875% First Priority Senior Secured Notes due 2022 (the “2022 Notes”). In addition, a Managing Director of Kelso is a member of our Board of Directors. As a result, Kelso has the power to exert considerable influence over our actions and the outcome of matters on which our shareholders are entitled to vote, including increasing or decreasing our authorized share capital, the election of directors, declaration of dividends, the appointment of management, and other policy decisions. In addition, according to public filings, CMA CGM, George Giouroukos (our Executive Chairman) through Shipping Participations Inc. and Michael S. Gross (our former Chairman and a current director) hold and/or control approximately 11.2%, 5.4% and 4.9%, respectively of our voting power, respectively. Conflicts of interest may also arise between us and these significant shareholders or their affiliates, which may result in transactions on terms not determined by market forces. Any such conflicts of interest could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations, and the trading price of our common shares. Moreover, the concentration of ownership may delay, deter or prevent acts that may be favored by or favorable to our other shareholders or deprive shareholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their shares as part of a sale of our business. Similarly, this concentration of share ownership may adversely affect the trading price of our shares because investors may perceive disadvantages in owning shares in a company with concentrated ownership.
Due to our lack of diversification, adverse developments in our containership transportation business could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Nearly all of our cash flow is generated from our chartering of containerships. Due to our lack of diversification, an adverse development in the containership industry may harm our business, results of operations and financial condition more significantly than if we maintained more diverse assets or lines of business.
We may be unable to recharter our vessels at profitable rates, if at all, upon their time charter expiry.
According to Maritime Strategies International Ltd. (“MSI”), as of December 31, 2019, the overall orderbook-to-fleet ratio represented approximately 10.9% of the total worldwide containership fleet capacity as of that date. Notwithstanding scrapping, the size of the orderbook will likely result in an increase in the size of the world containership fleet over the next few years. As of that date, approximately 240 containerships were idle, with an aggregate capacity of around 1.3 million TEUs, or 5.8% of the total cellular fleet. Potentially, an over-supply of containership capacity, combined with a lack of growth in the demand for containerships, may result in downward pressure on charter rates. As at December 31, 2019, but adjusted to include all ships delivered and charters agreed through March 31, 2020, the charters for nine of our 45 containerships either have expired or could expire before the end of the first half of 2020 and a further 12 vessels have charters which may expire during the second half of 2020. We cannot be assured that we will be able to obtain new time charters for our vessels on expiry of existing charters or that if we do, the new rates will be favorable. If we are unable to obtain new time charters for our containerships at favorable rates or are unable to secure new charters promptly, or at all, the vessels would be idle. We would continue to incur certain operating costs but earn no revenue, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financings, results of operations and financial condition. Please also see “—We are dependent on our charterers, particularly CMA CGM, and other counterparties fulfilling their obligations under agreements with us, and their inability or unwillingness to honor these obligations could significantly reduce our revenues and cash flow” above.
Our substantial indebtedness could adversely affect our ability to raise additional capital to fund our operations and limit our ability to react to changes in the economy or our industry.
We are highly leveraged. As of December 31, 2019, we had $912.8 million of outstanding indebtedness, including $322.7 million of secured indebtedness outstanding under our 2022 Notes (together with our 8.00% Senior Unsecured Notes due 2024, the “Notes”).
Our high degree of leverage could have important consequences, including:
|·||increasing our vulnerability to adverse economic, industry or competitive developments;|
|·||requiring a substantial portion of our cash flows from operations to be dedicated to the payment of interest on our indebtedness, amortization payments for our 2022 Notes and our credit facilities, and, under certain circumstances, principal payments through a cash sweep mechanism in certain of our credit facilities, therefore reducing our ability to use our cash flows to fund operations, capital expenditure and future business opportunities;|
|·||making it more difficult for us to satisfy our obligations with respect to our indebtedness, including the Notes and our credit facilities, and any failure to comply with the obligations of any of our debt instruments, including restrictive covenants and borrowing conditions, could result in an event of default under the indentures governing the Notes and the agreements governing such other indebtedness;|
|·||restricting us from making strategic acquisitions or causing us to make non-strategic divestitures;|
|·||limiting our ability to obtain additional financing for working capital, capital expenditures, debt service requirements, acquisitions and general corporate or other purposes; and|
|·||limiting our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business or market conditions and placing us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors who are less highly leveraged and who, therefore, may be able to take advantage of opportunities that our leverage may prevent us from exploiting.|
Despite our indebtedness levels, we may be able to incur substantially more indebtedness. This could further exacerbate the risks associated with our substantial indebtedness.
We may be able to incur substantial additional indebtedness in the future, including through our at-the-market offering of additional 8.00% Senior Unsecured Notes due 2024. Although the indenture governing the 2022 Notes and certain of our facility agreements contain restrictions on the incurrence of additional indebtedness, these restrictions are subject to a number of significant qualifications and exceptions, and under certain circumstances, the amount of indebtedness that could be incurred in compliance with these restrictions could be substantial. In addition, the indenture governing the 2022 Notes and our other facility agreements will not prevent us from incurring obligations that do not constitute indebtedness thereunder. Our covenants also permit us to incur substantial non-recourse indebtedness in subsidiaries that do not guarantee our obligations under our 2022 Notes. If we incur substantially more indebtedness, the risks associated with our indebtedness as described above could be exacerbated.
Our debt agreements contain restrictions that limit our flexibility in operating our business.
Our debt agreements contain various covenants that limit our ability to engage in specified types of transactions. These covenants limit our ability and the ability of our restricted subsidiaries to, among other things:
|·||incur additional indebtedness or issue certain preferred stock;|
|·||make any substantial change to the nature of our business;|
|·||pay dividends on or repay or distribute any dividend or share premium reserve;|
|·||redeem or repurchase capital stock or make other restricted payments and investments;|
|·||create or impair certain securities interests, including liens;|
|·||transfer or sell certain assets;|
|·||enter into certain transactions with affiliates;|
|·||acquire a company, shares or securities or a business or undertaking;|
|·||enter into any amalgamation, demerger, merger, consolidation or corporate reconstruction, or sell all or substantially all of our properties and assets;|
|·||create or designate unrestricted subsidiaries; and|
|·||change the flag, class or technical or commercial management of the vessel mortgaged under such facility or terminate or materially amend the management agreement relating to such vessel.|
In addition, certain of our debt agreements require us to satisfy certain financial covenants, including a minimum liquidity covenant, minimum net worth covenant, a debt service coverage ratio test, loan to value covenant and value adjusted leverage ratio tests. Our ability to meet those financial covenants and tests will depend on our ongoing financial and operating performance, which, in turn, will be subject to economic conditions and to financial, market, and competitive factors, many of which are beyond our control.
Due to restrictions in our debt agreements, we may need to seek consent from our noteholders and other lenders in order to engage in some corporate and commercial actions that we believe would be in the best interest of our business, and a denial of consent may make it difficult for us to successfully execute our business strategy or effectively compete with companies that are not similarly restricted. For example, our debt agreements restrict our entry into certain transactions or the termination or amendment of our third-party ship management agreements and require that George Giouroukos remain our Executive Chairman. Our lenders’ and/or noteholders’ interests may be different from ours, and we cannot guarantee that we will be able to obtain their permission when needed. This may prevent us from taking actions that are in our or our shareholders’ best interest. Any future agreements governing our indebtedness may include similar or more restrictive restrictions.
A breach of any of the covenants could result in a default under one or more of these agreements, including as a result of cross default provisions, and may permit the lenders to cease making loans to us. Upon the occurrence of an event of default under our credit facilities, the lenders could elect to declare all amounts outstanding under the loan to be immediately due and payable. Such actions by the lenders could cause cross defaults under our other credit facilities and the indentures governing our Notes.
Substantially all of the assets currently owned by us serve as security under our secured debt agreements. If our operating performance declines, we may be required to obtain waivers from the holders of our 2022 Notes and the lenders under our credit facilities to avoid default thereunder. If we are not able to obtain a waiver from the holders of our 2022 Notes and the lenders under our credit facilities, the lenders could exercise their rights upon default and we could be forced into bankruptcy or liquidation.
The vessels’ mortgagor or other maritime claimants could arrest our vessels, which could interrupt the charterer’s or our cash flow.
If we default under our 2022 Notes, or any other credit facility, holders of our 2022 Notes and lenders under our other credit facilities who hold mortgages on our vessels could arrest some or all of our vessels and cause them to be sold. We would not receive any proceeds of such sale unless and until all amounts outstanding under such indebtedness had been repaid in full. Crew members, suppliers of goods and services to a vessel, shippers of cargo and other parties may be entitled to a maritime lien against that vessel for unsatisfied debts, claims or damages. In many jurisdictions, a maritime lien holder may enforce its lien by arresting a vessel through foreclosure proceedings. The arrest or attachment of one or more of our vessels, for valid or invalid reasons, could interrupt the charterer’s or our cash flow and require the charterer or us or our insurance to pay a significant amount to have the arrest lifted. In addition, in some jurisdictions, such as South Africa, under the “sister ship” theory of liability, a claimant may arrest both the vessel that is subject to the claimant’s maritime lien and any “associated” vessel, which is any vessel owned or controlled by the same owner. Claimants could try to assert “sister ship” liability against one vessel in our fleet for claims relating to another vessel in our fleet. In any event, any lien imposed may adversely affect our results of operations by delaying the revenue gained from ships.
Vessel values may fluctuate, which may adversely affect our financial condition, result in the incurrence of a loss upon disposal of a vessel or increase the cost of acquiring additional vessels.
Vessel values may fluctuate due to a number of different factors, including:
|·||general economic and market conditions affecting the shipping industry;|
|·||the types, sizes and demand for available vessels;|
|·||the availability of other modes of transportation;|
|·||increases in the supply of vessel capacity;|
|·||the cost of newbuildings;|
|·||governmental or other regulations; and|
|·||the need to upgrade second hand and previously owned vessels as a result of changes in regulations, charterer requirements, technological advances in vessel design or equipment, or otherwise.|
In addition, as vessels grow older, they generally decline in value. If a charter terminates, we may be unable to re-deploy the vessel at attractive rates, or at all and, rather than continue to incur costs to maintain and finance the vessel, may seek to dispose of it. Our inability to dispose of the containership at a reasonable price, or at all, could result in a loss on its sale and harm our business, results of operations and financial condition. Additionally, under most of our time charter agreements with CMA CGM, the charterer has a right of first refusal should we decide to sell the vessel during or at the end of the charter period. If they do not exercise this right, we are entitled to sell the vessel, subject to their prior approval, which cannot be unreasonably withheld. We may be forced to sell our vessels for a lesser amount because of these constraints. Moreover, if the book value of a vessel is impaired due to unfavorable market conditions, we may incur a loss that could adversely affect our operating results.
Conversely, if vessel values are elevated at a time when we wish to acquire additional vessels, the cost of acquisition may increase and this could adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flow and financial condition.
In addition, if we determine at any time that a vessel’s value has been impaired, we may need to recognize impairment charge, which could be significant, that would reduce our earnings and net assets. We review our containership assets for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of the assets may not be recoverable, which occurs when the assets’ carrying value is greater than the undiscounted future cash flows the asset is expected to generate over its remaining useful life. In our experience, certain assumptions relating to our estimates of future cash flows are more predictable by their nature, including, estimated revenue under existing contract terms and remaining vessel life. Certain assumptions relating to our estimates of future cash flows require more judgement and are inherently less predictable, such as future charter rates beyond the firm period of existing contracts, the amount of time a vessel is off-charter, ongoing operating costs and vessel residual values, due to factors such as the volatility in vessel charter rates and vessel values. We believe that the assumptions used to estimate future cash flows of our vessels are reasonable at the time they are made. We can provide no assurances, however, as to whether our estimates of future cash flows, particularly future vessel charter revenues or vessel values, will be accurate. Vessels that currently are not considered impaired may become impaired over time if the future estimated undiscounted cash flows decline at a rate that is faster than the depreciation of our vessels. Future fluctuations in charter rates and vessel values may trigger a possible impairment of our vessels as described in “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects— A. Results of Operations—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates.”
Declining containership values could affect our ability to raise cash by limiting our ability to refinance vessels or use unencumbered vessels as collateral for new loans or result in prepayments under certain of our credit facilities. This could harm our business, results of operations, financial condition or ability to raise capital.
If impairment testing is required and time charter rates do not improve meaningfully from current market rates, we may need to recognize further impairment charges. The determination of the fair value of vessels will depend on various market factors, including charter and discount rates, ship operating costs and vessel trading values, and our reasonable assumptions at that time. The amount, if any, and timing of any impairment charges we may recognize in the future will depend upon then current and expected future charter rates, vessel utilization, operating and dry-docking expenditures, vessel residual values, inflation and the remaining expected useful lives of our vessels, which may differ materially from those used in our estimates as of December 31, 2019.
Our vessels may be subject to extended periods of off-hire, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Under the time charters for our vessels, when the vessel is not available for service, it will likely be “off-hire,” in which case the charterer is generally not required to pay hire, and we will be responsible for all costs unless the charterer is responsible for the circumstances giving rise to the lack of availability. A vessel generally will be deemed to be off-hire if there is an occurrence that affects the full working condition of the vessel, such as:
|·||any drydocking for repairs, maintenance or classification society inspection;|
|·||any time out of service necessary for owner to upgrade vessels to meet new regulatory requirements, such as ballast water treatment or emission control or to improve the specification and commercial characteristics of our vessels;|
|·||any damage, defect, breakdown or deficiency of the ship’s hull, machinery or equipment or repairs or maintenance thereto;|
|·||any deficiency of the ship’s master, officers and/or crew, including the failure, refusal or inability of the ship’s master, officers and/or crew to perform the service immediately required, whether or not within its control;|
|·||its deviation, other than to save life or property, which results in charterer’s lost time;|
|·||crewing labor boycotts or certain vessel arrests;|
|·||our failure to maintain the vessel in compliance with the charter’s requirements, such as maintaining operational certificates.|
|·||the vessel’s declared performance speed is reduced or fuel consumption is increased by more than 5% over a specified period of time; or|
|·||the vessel is requisitioned by any government or governmental authority.|
Additionally, the charterer may have the right to terminate the charter agreement under a number of circumstances, such as if:
|·||the vessel is off-hire for a specified number of days.|
|·||the charterer informs us of a default under the charter, and the default is not rectified.|
|·||there is a total (actual or constructive) loss of the vessel;|
|·||the vessel is requisitioned by any government or governmental authority; or|
|·||a vessel’s declared performance speed is reduced or fuel consumption increased in excess of a pre-agreed percentage over a continuous period of an agreed number of days, (for example, consumption in excess of 10% of that declared for a given speed over a continuous period of 30 days) and the reason is within our or the vessel’s control.|
Our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially adversely affected if our vessels are subject to extended periods of off-hire.
We may be unable to make or realize expected benefits from acquisitions of vessels or container shipping-related assets and implementing our growth strategy through acquisitions which may harm our business, financial condition and operating results.
Our growth strategy includes, among other things, selectively acquiring secondhand and, potentially, newbuilding vessels and possibly seeking to diversify our asset base by acquiring containers and other container shipping-related assets if an attractive investment opportunity presents itself in the future. Growing any business through acquisition presents numerous risks, such as undisclosed liabilities and obligations, the possibility that indemnification agreements will be unenforceable or insufficient to cover potential losses and obtaining the necessary resources to manage an enlarged business. We cannot give any assurance that we will be successful in executing our growth plans, that we will be able to employ any acquired vessels under long-term charters, that we will be able to purchase secondhand vessels or newbuildings at satisfactory prices or obtain ship management agreements with similar or better terms than those we have obtained from our current ship managers, that we will be able to purchase containers and subsequently lease them out at satisfactory prices or that we will not incur significant expenses and losses in connection with our future growth.
Factors that may limit our ability to acquire additional vessels and container shipping-related assets include competition from other owners and lessors, availability of financing, shipyard capacity for newbuildings and the limited number of modern vessels with appropriate characteristics not already subject to existing long-term or other charters. Competition from other purchasers could reduce our acquisition opportunities or cause us to pay higher prices.
Any acquisition of a vessel or container shipping-related assets may not be profitable to us and may not generate cash flow sufficient to justify our investment. In addition, our acquisition growth strategy exposes us to risks that may harm our business, financial condition and operating results, including risks that we may:
|·||fail to obtain financing, ship management agreements and charters on acceptable terms;|
|·||be unable, including through our ship managers, to hire, train or retain qualified shore and seafaring personnel to manage and operate our enlarged business and fleet;|
|·||fail to realize anticipated benefits of cost savings or cash flow enhancements;|
|·||decrease our liquidity by using a significant portion of our available cash or borrowing capacity to finance acquisitions or by additional repayments of debt;|
|·||significantly increase our interest expense or financial leverage if we incur additional debt to finance acquisitions; or|
|·||incur or assume unanticipated liabilities, losses or costs associated with the vessels acquired.|
Should we expand our business or provide additional services to third parties, we may need to improve our operating and financial systems, expand our commercial and technical management staff, and recruit suitable employees and crew for our vessels.
Our current operating and financial systems may not be adequate if we expand the size of our fleet or begin to provide additional services and attempts to improve those systems may be ineffective. In addition, we may need to recruit suitable additional administrative and management personnel to manage any growth. We may not be able to continue to hire suitable employees in such circumstances. If a shortage of experienced labor exists or if we encounter business or financial difficulties, we may not be able to adequately staff our vessels. If we expand our fleet, or begin to provide additional services, and we are unable to grow our financial and operating systems or to recruit suitable employees, our business, results of operations and financial condition may be harmed.
We are exposed to risks associated with the purchase and operation of secondhand vessels.
Secondhand vessels typically do not carry warranties as to their condition at the time of acquisition. While we would generally inspect secondhand containerships prior to purchase, such an inspection would normally not provide us with as much knowledge of the vessel’s condition as if it had been built for and operated by us during its life. Future repairs and maintenance costs for secondhand vessels are difficult to predict and may be substantially higher than those for equivalent vessels of which we have had direct experience. These additional costs could decrease our cash flow and reduce our liquidity. There can be no assurance that market conditions will justify such expenditures or enable us to operate our vessels profitably during the remainder of the economic lives of such vessels.
We may not perform underwater inspections of vessels prior to purchase.
Although we would perform physical inspections of any vessel prior to its purchase, it may not be possible for us to undertake any underwater inspections. As a result, we will not be aware of any damage to a vessel that may have existed at the time of purchase and which could only be discovered through an underwater inspection. However, if any damage is subsequently found, we could incur substantial costs to repair the damage which would not be recoverable from the sellers.
Our ability to enter time charters or grow may be reduced by the introduction of new accounting rules for leasing.
The new U.S. accounting standard on lease accounting ASU 2016-02 “Leases” (“the new lease standard”), became effective for financial years that began after December 15, 2018. The new lease standard has the effect of bringing most off-balance sheet leases onto a lessee’s balance sheet as a right-of-use asset and a lease liability for all leases, including operating leases, with a term greater than 12 months. This change could affect our customers and potential customers and may cause them to breach certain financial covenants. This may make them less likely to enter into time charters for our containerships, which could reduce our ability to enter into new charters or growth opportunities.
We must make substantial expenditures to maintain our fleet, meet new regulatory requirements or to acquire vessels.
We must make substantial expenditures to maintain our fleet and we generally expect to finance these expenditures from operating cash flow. In addition, we will need to make substantial capital expenditures to acquire vessels in accordance with our growth strategy. Further, we may be obliged to make substantial expenditures to become compliant with changes in the regulatory environment, particularly concerning emission control and ballast water treatment. We may also incur substantial expenditure to improve the specification and commercial characteristics of some of our vessels. Maintenance expenditures could increase as a result of, among other things, the cost of labor and materials, customer requirements and governmental regulations and maritime self-regulatory organization standards relating to safety, security or the environment. If we are unable to generate sufficient operating cash flow, we will need to fund these significant expenditures, including those required to maintain our fleet, with additional borrowings or otherwise find alternative sources of financing. Such financing arrangements may not be available on satisfactory economic terms or at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
As our fleet ages, we may incur increased operating costs beyond normal inflation, which would adversely affect our results of operations.
In general, the day-to-day cost of operating and maintaining a vessel increases with age. In addition, older vessels are typically less fuel efficient and may attract lower charter rates compared to modern, more fuel-efficient vessels. Governmental regulations and safety or other equipment standards may also require expenditures for modifications or the addition of new equipment and may restrict the type of activities in which our vessels may engage. We cannot assure you that, as our vessels age, market conditions will justify any such expenditures or expenditures to otherwise improve their operating characteristics, such as fuel efficiency to enable us to operate our vessels profitably during the remainder of their useful lives, which could adversely affect our results of operations. Our fleet of 43 vessels as of December 31, 2019 had an average age weighted by TEU capacity of 12.5 years.
Unless we set aside reserves or are able to borrow funds for vessel replacement, at the end of the useful lives of our vessels our revenue will decline, which would adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Our fleet of 43 vessels as of December 31, 2019 had an average age weighted by TEU capacity of 12.5 years. Unless we maintain reserves or are able to borrow or raise funds for vessel replacement, we will be unable to replace the older vessels in our fleet. Our cash flows and income are dependent on the revenues earned by the chartering of our containerships. The inability to replace the vessels in our fleet upon the expiration of their useful lives could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Any reserves set aside by any of our subsidiaries for vessel replacement will not be available for servicing our indebtedness.
Our business depends upon certain individuals who may not necessarily continue to be affiliated with us in the future.
Our current performance and future success depend to a significant extent upon our Executive Chairman, George Giouroukos, our Chief Executive Officer, Ian J. Webber, our Chief Commercial Officer, Thomas A. Lister, and our Chief Financial Officer, Anastasios Psaropoulos, who collectively have almost 100 years of cumulative experience in the shipping industry and have worked with several of the world’s largest shipping, ship leasing and ship management companies. They and members of the board of directors are crucial to the execution of our business strategies and to the growth and development of our business. Mr. Giouroukos has committed to spend approximately 50% on his time on matters related to our affairs. If these individuals were no longer to be affiliated with us, or if we were to otherwise cease to receive advisory services from them, we may be unable to recruit other employees with equivalent talent and experience, and our business and financial condition may suffer as a result.
Rising crew and other vessel operating costs may adversely affect our profits.
Acquiring and renewing charters with leading liner companies depends on a number of factors, including our ability to man our containerships with suitably experienced, high quality masters, officers and crews. The limited supply of and increased demand for well-qualified crew, due to the increase in the size of the global shipping fleet, has from time to time created upward pressure on crewing costs, which we generally bear under our time charters. Increases in crew costs and other vessel operating costs such as insurance, repairs and maintenance, and lubricants may adversely affect our profitability. In addition, if we cannot retain a sufficient number of high quality onboard seafaring personnel, our fleet utilization will decrease, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Increased fuel prices may have a material adverse effect on our profits.
The cost of fuel is a significant factor in negotiating charter rates and can affect us both directly and indirectly. The cost of fuel will be borne by us when our vessels are offhire, being positioned for and undergoing drydockings, between charters and when employed on voyage charters or contracts of affreightment. We currently have no voyage charters or contracts of affreightment, but we may enter into such arrangements in the future, and to the extent we do so, an increase in the price of fuel beyond our expectations may adversely affect our profitability. Even where the cost of fuel is ordinarily borne by the charterer, which is the case with all of our existing time charters, that cost will affect the level of charter rates that charterers are prepared to pay, depending in part on the fuel efficiency of a particular vessel.
The price of fuel is unpredictable and fluctuates based on events outside our control, including but not limited to geo-political developments, supply and demand for oil, actions by members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (“OPEC”) and other oil and gas producers, economic or other sanctions levied against oil and gas producing countries, war and unrest in oil producing countries and regions, regional production patterns and environmental concerns and regulations.
In addition, since the implementation of the International Maritime Organization’s regulations limiting sulfur emissions (“IMO 2020 Sulfur Regulation”) effective January 1, 2020, our vessels have been and continue to be operated using compliant low sulfur fuels, the price of which has increased as a result of increased demand. Fuel may continue to be more expensive, which may reduce our profitability and the competitiveness of our business compared to other forms of transportation. Further, as fuel costs are generally paid by our charterers, high fuel prices may impact their profitability if they are unable to pass these costs through to their customers. High fuel prices could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Volatility in the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR, could affect our profitability, earnings and cash flow.
LIBOR may be volatile, with the spread between LIBOR and the prime lending rate widening significantly at times. These conditions are the result of disruptions in the international markets. At times when we have loans outstanding which are based on LIBOR, the interest rates borne by such loan facilities fluctuate with changes in LIBOR, and this would affect the amount of interest payable on our debt, which, in turn, could have an adverse effect on our profitability, earnings and cash flow. Recently, however, there is uncertainty relating to the LIBOR calculation process which is expected to result in the phasing out of LIBOR in the future. Indeed, the banks currently reporting information used to set LIBOR will likely stop such reporting after 2021, when their commitment to reporting information ends. The Alternative Reference Rate Committee, or “Committee,” a committee convened by the U.S. Federal Reserve that includes major market participants, has proposed an alternative rate to replace U.S. Dollar LIBOR: the Secured Overnight Financing Rate, or “SOFR.” However, SOFR and other alternatives are fundamentally different to LIBOR and to each other and there can be no assurance that any alternative reference rate would become widely accepted. The impact of such a transition away from LIBOR would be significant for us because of our substantial indebtedness.
In the event of the continued or permanent unavailability of LIBOR, many of our financing agreements contain a provision requiring or permitting us to enter into negotiations with our lenders to agree to an alternative interest rate or an alternative basis for determining the interest rate. These clauses present significant uncertainties as to how alternative reference rates or alternative bases for determination of rates would be agreed upon, as well as the potential for disputes or litigation with our lenders regarding the appropriateness or comparability to LIBOR of any substitute indices. In the absence of an agreement between us and our lenders, most of our financing agreements provide that LIBOR would be replaced with some variation of the lenders’ cost-of-funds rate. The discontinuation of LIBOR presents a number of risks to our business, including volatility in applicable interest rates among our financing agreements, increased lending costs for future financing agreements or unavailability of or difficulty in attaining financing, which could in turn have an adverse effect on our profitability, earnings and cash flow.
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 and other obligations.
We are a holding company and have no significant assets other than the equity interests in our subsidiaries. Our subsidiaries own all of the vessels and payments under charters are made to them. As a result, our ability to pay dividends and meet any debt service obligations and other liabilities depends on the performance of our subsidiaries and their ability to distribute funds to us. The ability of our subsidiaries to pay dividends or make other distributions or payments to us will be subject to the availability of profits or funds for such purpose which, in turn, will depend on the future performance of the subsidiary concerned which, to a certain extent, is subject to general economic, financial, competitive, legislative, regulatory and other factors that may be beyond its control. Additionally, the ability of our subsidiaries to make these distributions could be affected by the provisions of our financing arrangements or a claim or other action by a third party, including a creditor, or by English, Marshall Islands, Cypriot or Hong Kong law or the laws of any jurisdiction which regulates the payment of dividends by companies. Applicable tax laws may also subject such payments to further taxation. Applicable law may also limit the amounts that some of our subsidiaries will be permitted to pay as dividends or distributions on their equity interests, or even prevent such payments. Limitations on our ability to transfer cash among and within our group may mean that even though we, in aggregate, may have sufficient resources to meet our obligations, we may not be permitted to make the necessary transfers from one entity in our group to another entity in our group in order to make payments on our obligations. Therefore, if we are unable to obtain funds from our subsidiaries, we may not be able to pay dividends, including on our Series B Preferred Shares, or meet our debt service obligations or our other liabilities.
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 and some of our expenses are denominated in currencies other than U.S. dollars. This currency mismatch could lead to fluctuations in net income due to changes in the value of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies. Expenses incurred in foreign currencies against which the U.S. dollar falls in value could increase, thereby decreasing our net income. We have not hedged any of this exposure and our U.S. dollar denominated results of operations and financial condition and ability to pay dividends could suffer from adverse currency exchange rate movements. Future declines in the U.S. dollar versus other currencies could have a material adverse effect on our operating expenses and net income.
Our insurance may be insufficient to cover losses that may occur to our property or result from our operations.
The shipping industry has inherent operational risks. Although we carry hull and machinery insurance, war risks insurance and protection and indemnity insurance (which includes coverage for environmental damage and pollution) and other insurances commonly held by vessel owners, we may not be adequately insured against all risks or our insurers may not pay every claim. Even if our insurance coverage is adequate to cover our losses, we may not be able to obtain a replacement vessel in the event of a total or constructive total loss in a timely manner. Further, under our financings, we are subject to restrictions on the use of any proceeds we may receive under claims in the event of a total or constructive total loss. Furthermore, in the future, we may not be able to obtain adequate insurance coverage at reasonable rates for our fleet. We may also be subject to calls, or premiums, in amounts based not only on our own claim records but also the claim records of all other members of the protection and indemnity associations through which we receive indemnity insurance coverage for tort liability. In addition, insurers typically charge additional premiums if vessels transit certain “excluded areas,” which may be subject to higher risk of piracy, war or terrorism. We cannot be certain that our insurers will continue to provide such cover, or that we will be able to recover these increased costs from our charterers. Our insurance policies also contain deductibles, limitations and exclusions which, although we believe are standard in the shipping industry, may nevertheless increase our costs.
In addition, we do not presently carry loss-of-hire insurance, which covers the loss of revenue during extended vessel off-hire periods, such as those that might occur during an unscheduled drydocking due to damage to the vessel from a major accident. Accordingly, any vessel that is off hire for an extended period of time, due to an accident or otherwise, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We are incorporated in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which does not have a well-developed body of corporate law.
Our corporate affairs are governed by our articles of incorporation and bylaws and by the Business Corporations Act of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or BCA. The provisions of the BCA resemble provisions of the corporation laws of a number of states in the United States. However, there have been very few judicial cases in the Republic of the Marshall Islands interpreting the BCA. The rights and fiduciary responsibilities of directors under the law of the Republic 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. 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 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.
A cyber-attack could materially disrupt our business.
We rely on information technology systems and networks in our operations and administration of our business. Information systems are vulnerable to security breaches by computer hackers and cyber terrorists. We rely on industry accepted security measures and technology to securely maintain confidential and proprietary information maintained on our information systems. However, these measures and technology may not adequately prevent security breaches. Our business operations could be targeted by individuals or groups seeking to sabotage or disrupt our information technology systems and networks, or to steal data. A successful cyber-attack could materially disrupt our operations, including the safety of our operations, or lead to unauthorized release of information or alteration of information in our systems. Any such attack or other breach of our information technology systems could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations. In addition, the unavailability of the information systems or the failure of these systems to perform as anticipated for any reason could disrupt our business and could result in decreased performance and increased operating costs, causing our business and results of operations to suffer. Any significant interruption or failure of our information systems or any significant breach of security could adversely affect our business and results of operations.
Risks Relating to Our Industry
Our growth and long-term profitability depend mainly upon growth in demand for containerships, the condition of the charter market and the availability of capital. The container shipping industry is cyclical and volatile.
Container shipping industry is both seasonal and cyclical but has shown positive demand growth in every year of its history except 2009. According to MSI, between 1993 and 2008, which included a period of super-cyclical growth partly fueled by a significant increase in trade with China, containerized trade grew at an annual compound rate of over 9.0%. The global financial crisis, from late 2008, prompted a contraction of demand, with 2009 volumes falling by around 8.0%. In 2010, demand rebounded, with volume growth of approximately 15.0%. Between 2011 and 2018 average compound annual growth of containerized trade was 3.5%. Full year growth in 2019 is estimated at 2.0%, despite negative sentiment resulting from increased trade tensions between the U.S. and China. On the supply side, cellular containership capacity grew by a compound annual rate of 6.1% from 2009 through 2018. In 2019, supply is estimated to have expanded by approximately 4.0% and, as of December 31, 2019, the containership fleet stood at approximately 5,300 ships, with an aggregate capacity estimated at 22.9 million TEU.
Weak conditions in the containership sector may affect our ability to generate cash flows and maintain liquidity, as well as adversely affect our ability to obtain financing.
The factors affecting the supply and demand for containerships and container shipping services are outside our control, and the nature, timing and degree of changes in industry conditions are unpredictable.
The factors that influence demand for containership capacity include:
|·||supply and demand for products suitable for shipping in containers;|
|·||changes in the pattern of global production of products transported by containerships;|
|·||the globalization of manufacturing;|
|·||global and regional economic and political conditions;|
|·||developments in international trade;|
|·||changes in seaborne and other transportation patterns, including changes in the distances over which container cargoes are transported, the size of containerships, the extent of trans-shipments and the competitiveness of other forms of marine transportation including dry bulk and refrigerated vessels;|
|·||environmental and other legal and regulatory developments;|
|·||the price of oil and economics of slow steaming;|
|·||the availability of trade finance and currency exchange rates; and|
|·||port and canal congestion.|
The factors that influence the supply of containership capacity include:
|·||the containership newbuilding orderbook;|
|·||the availability of financing;|
|·||the scrapping rate of containerships;|
|·||the number of containerships off-hire or otherwise idle including laid-up;|
|·||the price of steel and other raw materials;|
|·||changes in environmental and other laws and regulations that may limit the useful life of containerships;|
|·||the availability of shipyard capacity;|
|·||port and canal congestion; and|
|·||the extent of slow steaming.|
Our ability to recharter our containerships upon the expiration of their current charters. Of our fleet of 45 containerships (including the two ships which delivered in early 2020) nine have charters which either have expired or may expire before the end of the first half of 2020 and a further 12 have charters which may expire during the second half of 2020. Charter rates receivable under any renewal or replacement charters will depend upon, among other things, the prevailing state of the containership charter market. If the charter market is depressed when our charters expire, we may be forced to recharter our containerships at reduced or even unprofitable rates, or we may not be able to recharter them at all, which may reduce or eliminate our results of operations or make our results of operations volatile. The same issues will exist in respect of any additional vessels we may acquire either when obtaining the initial charters or on rechartering at their expiry.
Our financial and operating performance may be adversely affected by global public health threats, including the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Public health threats, such as the coronavirus (COVID-19), influenza and other highly communicable diseases or viruses, outbreaks of which from time to time occur in various parts of the world in which we operate, including China, could adversely impact our operations and the operations of our customers. The recent pandemic of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) could, among other things, cause delayed or extended drydockings, disrupt our operations from non-availability of staff and materials and significantly affect global markets, affecting the demand for container shipping services, and therefore charter rates and asset values. If the effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is ongoing, we may be unable to recharter our ships at appropriate rates or durations.
Additionally, any prolonged restrictive measures implemented in order to control or contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) or other global public health threats may have a material and adverse effect on our business operations and demand for our vessels generally.
Seasonal fluctuations could affect our operating results and available cash from quarter to quarter.
We operate our vessels in markets that have historically exhibited seasonal, as well as cyclical, variations in demand and, as a result, in charter hire rates. This seasonality may result in quarter-to-quarter volatility in our operating results, which could affect the amount of our cash flow.
A decrease in the export of goods or an increase in trade protectionism will harm our customers’ business and, in turn, harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Much of our customers’ containership business revenue is derived from the shipment of goods from the Asia Pacific region, primarily China, to various overseas export markets, including the United States and Europe. Any reduction in or hindrance to the output of China-based exporters could negatively affect the growth rate of China’s exports and our customers’ business. For instance, the government of China has implemented economic policies aimed at increasing domestic consumption of Chinese-made goods. This may reduce the supply of goods available for export and may, in turn, result in a decrease in shipping demand. Additionally, though in China there is an increasing level of autonomy and a gradual shift in emphasis to a “market economy” and enterprise reform, many of the reforms, particularly some limited price reforms that result in the prices for certain commodities being principally determined by market forces, are unprecedented or experimental and may be subject to revision, change or abolition. The level of imports to and exports from China could be adversely affected by changes to these economic reforms by the Chinese government, as well as by changes in political, economic and social conditions or other relevant policies of the Chinese government. Changes in laws and regulations in China, including with regards to tax matters, and their implementation by local authorities could affect our charterers’ business and have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Our international operations expose us to the risk that increased trade protectionism will harm our business. In times of global economic challenge, governments may turn to trade barriers to protect their domestic industries against foreign imports, thereby depressing shipping demand. In particular, there have been continuing trade tensions, including significant tariff increases, between the United States and China, resulting in leaders of the United States and China implementing certain increasingly protective trade measures, which have been somewhat mitigated by the recent trade deal (first phase trade agreement) between the United Stated and China in early 2020 which, among other things, requires China to purchase approximately $200 billion in American products and services over the next two years, and future phases may result in decreased tariffs. However, protectionist developments, or the perception that they may occur, could have a material adverse effect on global economic conditions, and may significantly reduce global trade. Moreover, increasing trade protectionism may cause an increase in (i) the cost of goods exported from regions globally, (ii) the length of time required to transport goods and (iii) the risks associated with exporting goods. Such increases may significantly affect the quantity of goods to be shipped, shipping time schedules, voyage costs and other associated costs, which could have an adverse impact on our charterers’ business, operating results and financial condition and could thereby affect their ability to make timely charter hire payments to us and to renew and increase the number of their time charters with us. This could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and our ability to pay any cash distributions to our stockholders.
Adverse economic conditions, especially in the Asia Pacific region, the European Union or the United States, could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Because a significant number of the port calls made by our vessels involves the loading or discharging of containerships in ports in the Asia Pacific region, economic turmoil in that region may exacerbate the effect of any economic slowdown on us. China has been one of the world’s fastest growing economies in terms of gross domestic product, or GDP, which has increased the demand for shipping. However, China’s rate of real GDP growth has fallen from its historical highs. The United States has also implemented more protectionist trade measures in an effort to protect and enhance its domestic economy. Additionally, the European Union, or the EU, and certain of its member states are facing significant economic and political challenges, including a risk of increased protectionist policies and the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Our business, results of operations and financial condition will likely be harmed by any significant economic downturn in the Asia Pacific region, including China, or in the EU or the United States.
The global economy experienced disruption and volatility following adverse changes in global capital markets commencing in 2007 and 2008. The deterioration in the global economy caused, and any renewed deterioration may cause, a decrease in worldwide demand for certain goods and shipping. Economic instability could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Disruptions in world financial markets and the resulting governmental action in the United States and in other parts of the world could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows.
Global financial markets and economic conditions have been severely disrupted and volatile at times in recent years and remain subject to significant vulnerabilities, such as the deterioration of fiscal balances and the rapid accumulation of public debt, continued deleveraging in the banking sector and limited supply of credit. Credit markets and the debt and equity capital markets have been exceedingly distressed and volatile. The sovereign debt crisis in countries such as Cyprus and Greece, for example, and concerns over debt levels of certain other European Union member states and other countries around the world, as well as concerns about some international banks, has increased volatility in global credit and equity markets. These issues, along with the re-pricing of credit risk and the difficulties currently experienced by financial institutions have made, and will likely continue to make, it difficult to obtain financing. As a result of the disruptions in the credit markets, many lenders have increased margins, enacted tighter lending standards, required more restrictive terms (including higher collateral ratios for advances, shorter maturities and smaller loan amounts), or refused to refinance existing debt at all or on terms similar to our current debt. Furthermore, certain banks that have historically been significant lenders to the shipping industry have announced an intention to reduce or cease lending activities in the shipping industry. New banking regulations, including larger capital requirements and the resulting policies adopted by lenders, could reduce lending activities. We may experience difficulties obtaining financing commitments in the future if current or future lenders are unwilling to extend financing to us or unable to meet their funding obligations due to their own liquidity, capital or solvency issues.
We cannot be certain that financing or refinancing will be available on acceptable terms or at all. If financing or refinancing is not available when needed, or is available only on unfavorable terms, we may be unable to meet our future obligations as they come due. Our failure to obtain such funds could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition, as well as our cash flows, including cash available for dividends to our shareholders. In the absence of available financing, we also may be unable to take advantage of business opportunities or respond to competitive pressures.
The U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union may have a negative effect on global economic conditions, financial markets and our business.
In June 2016, a majority of voters in the U.K. elected to withdraw from the EU in a national referendum (informally known as “Brexit”), a process that the government of the U.K. formally initiated in March 2017. Since then, the U.K. and the EU have been negotiating the terms of a withdrawal agreement, which was approved in October 2019 and ratified in January 2020. The U.K. formally exited the EU on January 31, 2020, although a transition period remains in place until December 2020, during which the U.K. will be subject to the rules and regulations of the EU while continuing to negotiate the parties’ relationship going forward, including trade deals. There is currently no agreement in place regarding the aftermath of the withdrawal, creating significant uncertainty about the future relationship between the U.K. and the EU, including with respect to the laws and regulations that will apply as the U.K. determines which EU-derived laws to replace or replicate following the withdrawal. Brexit has also given rise to calls for the governments of other EU member states to consider withdrawal. These developments and uncertainties, or the perception that any of them may occur, have had and may continue to have a material adverse effect on global economic conditions and the stability of global financial markets, and may significantly reduce global market liquidity and restrict the ability of key market participants to operate in certain financial markets. Any of these factors could depress economic activity and restrict our access to capital, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and on our consolidated financial position, results of operations and our ability to pay distributions. Additionally, Brexit or similar events in other jurisdictions, could impact global markets, including foreign exchange and securities markets; any resulting changes in currency exchange rates, tariffs, treaties and other regulatory matters could in turn adversely impact our business and operations.
Brexit contributes to considerable uncertainty concerning the current and future economic environment. Brexit could adversely affect European or worldwide political, regulatory, economic or market conditions and could contribute to instability in global political institutions, regulatory agencies and financial markets.
We may have more difficulty entering into long-term charters if a more active and cheaper short-term or spot container shipping market develops.
At the expiration of our charters or if a charter terminates early for any reason or if we acquire vessels charter-free, we will need to charter or recharter our vessels. If an excess of vessels is available on the spot or short-term market at the time we are seeking to fix new longer-term charters, we may have difficulty entering into such charters at all or at profitable rates and for any term other than short term and, as a result, our cash flow may be subject to instability in the mid to long-term. In addition, it would be more difficult to fix relatively older vessels should there be an oversupply of younger vessels on the market. A depressed spot market may require us to enter into short-term spot charters based on prevailing market rates, which could result in a decrease in our cash flow.
An over-supply of containership capacity may lead to reductions in charter hire rates and profitability.
While the size of the containership orderbook has declined substantially since its peak in 2008/2009, the containership newbuilding orderbook as of January 1, 2020 represented approximately 10.9% of the total on the water fleet capacity. Further containerships are likely to be ordered. Notwithstanding scrapping, delivery of newly built containerships will likely result in an increase in the size of the world containership fleet over the next few years. An over-supply of containership capacity, combined with any decline in the rate of growth in demand for containerships, would be likely to result in a reduction of charter hire rates. If such a reduction occurs when we seek to charter newbuilding vessels, our growth opportunities may be diminished. If such a reduction occurs upon the expiration or termination of our containerships’ current time charters, we may only be able to recharter our containerships for reduced rates or unprofitable rates or we may not be able to recharter our containerships at all, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operation.
Increased competition in technology and innovation could reduce our charter hire income and the value of our vessels.
The charter rates and the value and operational life of a vessel are determined by a number of factors, including the vessel’s efficiency, operational flexibility and physical life. Efficiency includes speed and fuel economy. Flexibility includes the ability to enter harbors, utilize related docking facilities and pass through canals and straits together with other vessel specifications such as the capacity to carry temperature controlled containers (reefers). Physical life is related to the original design and construction, maintenance and the impact of the stress of operations. If new ship designs currently promoted by shipyards as being more fuel efficient perform, or if new containerships built in future that are more efficient or flexible or have longer physical lives than our vessels, competition from these more technologically advanced containerships could adversely affect our ability to re-charter, the amount of charter-hire payments that we receive for our containerships once their current time charters expire and the resale value of our containerships. This could adversely affect our ability to service our debt or pay dividends to our shareholders.
Acts of piracy on ocean-going vessels have increased in frequency, which could adversely affect our business.
Piracy is an inherent risk in the operation of ocean-going vessels and particularly affects vessels operating in specific regions of the world such as the South China Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, off the coast of West Africa and off the coast of Somalia. Generally, we do not control the routing of our vessels, which is determined by the charterer. Pirate attacks on any of our vessels could result in loss of life, the kidnapping of crew or the theft, damage or destruction of vessels or of containers or cargo being transported thereon. In addition, while we believe the charterer remains liable for charter payments when a vessel is seized by pirates, the charterer may dispute this and withhold charter hire until the vessel is released. A charterer may also claim that a vessel seized by pirates was not “on-hire” for a certain number of days and it is therefore entitled to cancel the charter party, a claim that we would dispute. We may not be adequately insured to cover losses from these incidents, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, insurance premiums and costs such as onboard security guards, should we decide to employ them, could increase in such circumstances. Further, acts of piracy may materially adversely affect our charterer’s business, impairing its ability to make payments to us under our charters.
Terrorist attacks and international hostilities could affect our results of operations and financial condition.
Terrorist attacks and the continuing response of the United States and other countries to these attacks, as well as the threat of future terrorist attacks, continue to cause uncertainty in the world financial markets and may affect our business, results of operations and financial condition from increased security costs and more rigorous inspection procedures at borders and ports. From time to time, acts of terrorism, regional conflict and other armed conflict around the world may contribute to further economic instability in the global financial markets. These uncertainties could also adversely affect our ability to obtain additional financing on terms acceptable to us or at all.
Terrorist attacks targeted at oceangoing vessels may also negatively affect our future operations and financial condition from, for example, increased insurance costs, and directly impact our containerships or our charterer. Future terrorist attacks could result in increased market volatility or even a recession in the United States or elsewhere or negatively affect global financial markets and could further increase inspection and security requirements and regulation that could slow our operations and negatively affect our profitability. Any of these occurrences could have a material adverse impact on our operating results, revenue and costs.
If our vessels call on ports located in countries or territories that are subject to sanctions or embargoes imposed by the United States government, the European Union, the United Nations, or other governments, it could lead to monetary fines or penalties and have a material adverse effect on the market for our securities.
Although we do not expect that our vessels will call on ports located in countries or territories subject to country-wide or territory-wide sanctions and/or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government or other authorities or countries identified by the U.S. government or other authorities as state sponsors of terrorism (“Sanctioned Jurisdictions”), and we endeavor to take precautions reasonably designed to mitigate such activities, including relevant provisions in charter agreements forbidding the use of our vessels in trade that would violate economic sanctions, on charterers’ instructions and without our consent, our vessels may call on ports located in such countries or territories in the future. If such activities result in a sanctions violation, we could be subject to monetary fines, penalties, or other sanctions, and our reputation and the market for our common shares could be adversely affected.
The sanctions and embargo laws and regulations vary in their application, as they do not all apply to the same covered persons or proscribe the same activities and may be amended or strengthened over time. Current or future counterparties of ours may be affiliated with persons or entities that are or may be in the future the subject of sanctions imposed by the U.S. administration, the EU, and/or other international bodies. If we determine that such sanctions require us to terminate existing or future contracts to which we or our subsidiaries are party or if we are found to be in violation of such applicable sanctions, our results of operations may be adversely affected or we may suffer reputational harm. Currently, we do not believe that any of our existing counterparties are affiliated with persons or entities that are subject to such sanctions.
To the best of our knowledge, none of our vessels have called at ports in Sanctioned Jurisdictions since January 1, 2014, nor have we provided any services or products to Sanctioned Jurisdiction, or entered into any agreements, commercial arrangements or had any contact with the governments of, or entities controlled by the governments of, Sanctioned Jurisdictions, during this time period. Additionally, neither we nor our affiliates have, since January 1, 2014, knowingly provided any services or products to Iran, or entered into any agreements, commercial arrangements or had any contact with the government of, or entities controlled by the government of Iran.
Although we believe that we have been in compliance with all applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations, and intend to maintain such compliance, there can be 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, penalties or other sanctions that could severely impact our ability to access U.S. capital markets and conduct our business, and could result in some investors deciding, or being required, to divest their interest, or not to invest, in us. In addition, certain institutional investors may have investment policies or restrictions that prevent them from holding securities of companies that have contracts with Sanctioned Jurisdictions and certain financial institutions may have policies against lending or extending credit to companies that have contracts with Sanctioned Jurisdictions. The determination by these investors not to invest in, or to divest from, our common shares or the determination by these financial institutions not to offer financing may adversely affect the price at which our common shares trade. 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. In addition, our reputation and the market for our securities may be adversely affected if we engage in certain other activities, such as entering into charters with individuals or entities in countries or territories subject to U.S. sanctions and embargo laws that are not controlled by the governments of those countries or territories, or engaging in operations associated with those countries or territories pursuant to contracts with third parties that are unrelated to those countries or territories or entities controlled by their governments. Investor perception of the value of our common shares may be adversely affected by the consequences of war, the effects of terrorism, civil unrest and governmental actions in these and surrounding countries.
It may not be possible for some of our vessels to call on Turkish ports due to the Turkish embargo on Cypriot flag vessels and vessels owned by Cypriot companies.
In 1987, the Turkish Government introduced certain restrictive measures against Cypriot owned or flagged vessels prohibiting such vessels to call on Turkish ports. In 1997, the restrictive measures were extended and since then they apply not only against Cypriot flag vessels but also against vessels registered under a foreign flag (of any nationality) sailing to Turkish ports directly from any Cypriot port under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus or against vessels of any flag related to the Republic of Cyprus in terms of ownership or ship management. Cypriot vessels will be allowed passage through the Turkish Straits (Bosphorus) with or without pilot but no other services or provisions will be given, including bunker supply. Currently, nine of our 45 vessels are owned by Cypriot companies and of these five are Cyprus flagged. Whilst the restrictive measures remain in place, our vessels which are either Cypriot flagged or owned by a Cypriot company may not call on Turkish ports. This may restrict the use of Cypriot ports by our charterers and may have an adverse effect on the possible operation of our vessels by them in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea or give rise to costs to change the ownership and flag of relevant vessels to permit trading to Turkey.
The smuggling of drugs, weapons or other contraband and stowaways on our vessels may lead to governmental claims against us.
We expect that our vessels will call in areas where smugglers attempt to hide drugs, weapons and other contraband on vessels or stowaways attempt to board, with or without the knowledge of crew members. To the extent our vessels are found with contraband or stowaways, whether with or without the knowledge of any of our crew or charterers, we may face governmental or other regulatory claims, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition.
We are exposed to significant risks in relation to compliance with anti-corruption laws and regulations.
Our business entails numerous interactions with government authorities, including port authorities, health, safety, and environment authorities, labor and tax authorities and customs and immigration authorities. Furthermore, at our charterer’s direction, our vessels call at ports throughout the world, including in some countries where corruption is endemic. Although we have strict and adequate procedures prohibiting our employees or persons associated with us from making unlawful payments to government officials, we cannot guarantee that such payments may not be made despite our procedures and without our approval. In such case, such payments may be deemed to have violated anti-corruption laws potentially applicable to us, including the UK Bribery Act 2010 (the “Bribery Act”) and the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “FCPA”). Both civil and criminal penalties may be imposed on us as a result of violations of anti-corruption laws, and such penalties could have a material adverse impact on our reputation, business and financial condition.
Risks inherent in the operation of containerships could impair the ability of the charterer to make payments to us, increase our costs or reduce the value of our assets.
Our containerships and their cargoes are at risk of being damaged or lost because of events such as marine accidents, bad weather, mechanical failures, human error, war, terrorism, piracy, environmental accidents and other circumstances or events. Any of these events connected to our vessels or other vessels under the charterer’s control, or any other factor which negatively affects the charterer’s business such as economic downturn and significant cyclical depression in the container shipping industry, could impair the ability of the charterer to make payments to us pursuant to our charters. Although the charterer is obligated to pay us charterhire regardless of the amount of cargo being carried on board, it is possible that generally low cargo volumes and low freight rates or events noted above may render the charterer financially unable to pay us its hire. Furthermore, there is a risk that a vessel may become damaged, lost or destroyed during normal operations and any such occurrence may cause us additional expenses to repair or substitute the vessel or may render us unable to provide the vessel for chartering, which will cause us to lose charter revenue.
These occurrences could also result in death or injury to persons, loss of property or environmental damage, loss of revenues from or termination of charter contracts, governmental fines, penalties or restrictions on conducting business, higher insurance rates, and damage to our reputation and customer relationships generally. Any of these circumstances or events could increase our costs or lower our revenues, which could result in reduction in the market price of our common shares.
Governments could requisition our vessels during a period of war or emergency without adequate compensation, which under most of our time charter agreements would permit the customer to terminate the charter agreement for that vessel.
A government could requisition one or more of our vessels for title or for hire. Requisition for title occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and becomes its owner, while requisition for hire occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and effectively becomes its charterer at dictated charter rates. Generally, requisitions occur during periods of war or emergency, although governments may elect to requisition vessels in other circumstances. Although we would likely be entitled to compensation in the event of a requisition of one or more of our vessels, the amount and timing of payment would be uncertain. Additionally, under most of our time charter agreements, if a vessel is requisitioned, our customer has the option to terminate the charter agreement within 14 days of receipt of notice of the requisition. Government requisition of one or more of our vessels may negatively impact our revenues and cash flow.
If labor or other interruptions are not resolved in a timely manner, they could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and available cash.
In addition to providing services to us our technical managers are responsible for recruiting the senior officers and other crew members for our vessels. If not resolved in a timely and cost-effective manner, industrial action or other labor unrest or any other labor interruption, could prevent or hinder our operations from being carried out as we expect and could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, operating results, distribution of dividends or the trading price of our common shares.
Reliability of suppliers may limit our ability to obtain supplies and services when needed.
We rely, and will continue to rely, on a significant supply of consumables, spare parts and equipment to operate, maintain, repair and upgrade our fleet of ships. Delays in delivery or unavailability of supplies could result in off-hire days due to consequent delays in the repair and maintenance of our fleet which would negatively impact our revenues and cash flows. Cost increases could also negatively impact our future operations.
Compliance with safety and other vessel requirements imposed by classification societies may be costly and may adversely affect our business and operating results.
The hull and machinery of every commercial vessel must conform to the rules and standards of a classification society approved by the vessel’s country of registry. Such societies set the rules and standards for the design, construction, classification, and surveys of vessels and conduct surveys to determine whether vessels are in compliance with such rules and standards. A certification by a society is an attestation that the vessel is in compliance with the society’s rules and standards. A vessel involved in international trade must also conform to national and international regulations on safety, environment and security, including (but not limited to) the Safety of Life at Sea Convention, or SOLAS, and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. A vessel conforms to such regulations by obtaining certificates from its country of registry and/or a classification society authorized by the country of registry.
A vessel must undergo annual surveys, intermediate surveys and special surveys. In lieu of a special or class renewal survey, a vessel’s machinery may be reviewed on a continuous survey cycle, under which the machinery would be surveyed over a five-year period. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Inspection by Classification Societies” for more information regarding annual surveys, intermediate surveys and special surveys. Bureau Veritas, Lloyd’s Register, DNV-GL & RINA and American Bureau of Shipping, the classification societies for the vessels in our fleet, may approve and carry out in-water inspections of the underwater parts of our vessels once every three to five years, in lieu of drydocking inspections. In-water inspections are typically less expensive than drydocking inspections and we intend to conduct in-water inspections when that option is available to us.
If a vessel does not maintain its “in class” certification or fails any annual survey, intermediate survey or special survey, port authorities may detain the vessel, refuse her entry into port or refuse to allow her to trade resulting in the vessel being unable to trade and therefore rendering her unemployable. In the event that a vessel becomes unemployable, we could also be in violation of provisions in our charters, insurance coverage, covenants in our loan agreements and ship registration requirements and our revenues and future profitability would be negatively affected.
We are subject to regulation and liability under environmental laws that could require significant expenditures and affect our cash flows and net income.
Our business and the operation of our containerships are materially affected by environmental regulation in the form of international conventions, national, state and local laws and regulations in force in the jurisdictions in which our containerships operate, as well as in the countries of their registration, including those governing the management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, the cleanup of oil spills and other contamination, air emissions, water discharges, ballast water management and vessel recycling. Because such conventions, laws and regulations are often revised, we cannot predict the ultimate cost or effect of complying with such requirements or the effect of such compliance on the current market value, resale price or useful life of our containerships. Additional conventions, laws and regulations may be adopted that could limit our ability to do business or increase the cost of our doing business, which may negatively impact our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Environmental requirements may also require a reduction in cargo capacity, ship modifications or operational changes or restrictions, lead to decreased availability of insurance coverage for environmental matters or result in substantial penalties, fines or other sanctions, including the denial of access to certain jurisdictional waters or ports or detention in certain ports. Under local, national and foreign laws, as well as international treaties and conventions, we could incur material liabilities, including cleanup obligations and natural resource damages, if there is a release of petroleum or other hazardous materials from our vessels or otherwise in connection with our operations. We could also become subject to personal injury or property damage claims relating to the release of hazardous materials associated with our operations, even if not carried as cargo.
In addition, in complying with existing environmental laws and regulations and those that may be adopted, we may incur significant costs in meeting new maintenance and inspection requirements and new restrictions on air emissions from our containerships, in managing ballast water, in developing contingency arrangements for potential spills and in obtaining insurance coverage. Government regulation of vessels, particularly in the areas of safety, security and environmental requirements, can be expected to become stricter in the future and require us to incur significant capital expenditures on our vessels to keep them in compliance, or even to scrap or sell certain vessels altogether. Substantial violations of applicable requirements or a catastrophic release of bunker fuel from one or more of our containerships could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition. For additional information about the environmental regulations to which we are subject, please read “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Environmental and Other Regulations.”
Increased inspection procedures, tighter import and export controls and new security regulations could increase costs and cause disruption of our containership business.
International container shipping is subject to security and customs inspection and related procedures in countries of origin, destination, and certain trans-shipment points. These inspection procedures can result in cargo seizure, delays in the loading, offloading, trans-shipment, or delivery of containers, and the levying of customs duties, fines and other penalties against us.
Since the events of September 11, 2001, U.S. authorities have substantially increased container inspections. Government investment in non-intrusive container scanning technology has grown and there is interest in electronic monitoring technology, including so-called “e-seals” and “smart” containers, which would enable remote, centralized monitoring of containers during shipment to identify tampering with or opening of the containers, along with potentially measuring other characteristics such as temperature, air pressure, motion, chemicals, biological agents and radiation. Also, as a response to the events of September 11, 2001, additional vessel security requirements have been imposed, including the installation of security alert and automatic identification systems on board vessels.
It is unclear what additional changes, if any, to the existing inspection and security procedures may ultimately be proposed or implemented in the future, or how any such changes will affect the industry. It is possible that such changes could impose additional financial and legal obligations on us. Furthermore, changes to inspection and security procedures could also impose additional costs and obligations on our customers and may, in certain cases, render the shipment of certain types of goods in containers uneconomical or impractical. Any such changes or developments could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition and our ability to pay dividends to our shareholders.
The operation of our vessels is also affected by the requirements set forth in the International Ship and Port Facilities Security Code, or the ISPS Code. The ISPS Code requires vessels to develop and maintain a ship security plan that provides security measures to address potential threats to the security of ships or port facilities. Although each of our containerships is ISPS Code certified, any failure to comply with the ISPS Code or maintain such certifications may subject us to increased liability and may result in denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports. Furthermore, compliance with the ISPS Code requires us to incur certain costs. Although such costs have not been material to date, if new or more stringent regulations relating to the ISPS Code are adopted by the International Maritime Organisation, the United Nations agency for maritime safety and the prevention of pollution by vessels (the “IMO”) and the flag states, these requirements could require significant additional capital expenditures or otherwise increase the costs of our operations.
Sulfur regulations to reduce air pollution from ships are likely to require retrofitting of vessels and may cause us to incur significant costs.
In October 2016, the IMO set January 1, 2020 as the implementation date for vessels to comply with its sulfur emission limit of 0.5% m/m. These regulations may be complied with by (i) using low sulfur fuel which is at a higher cost that standard heavy fuel oil, (ii) installing scrubbers for cleaning of exhaust gas; or (iii) by retrofitting vessels to be powered by, for example, liquefied natural gas, which is not likely to be a viable option for smaller older vessels due to the high costs involved. The higher cost of low sulfur fuel is, in the first instance, borne by the vessel operator, our charterer, whereas the installation of scrubbers or retrofitting for an alternative fuel source, would in the first instance be borne by us as the vessel owner. Costs of compliance with these regulatory changes may be significant and may have a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position.
Regulations relating to ballast water discharge that have been in effect since September 2019 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. Existing vessels constructed before September 8, 2017, must comply with updated standards on or after September 8, 2019, with the exact date depending on the date of the next International Oil Pollution Prevention (“IOPP”) renewal survey. In some cases, such as where vessels are due to trade to U.S. ports, the implementation date may be before the IMO deadline. For most vessels, compliance with the standard will involve installing on-board systems to treat ballast water to eliminate unwanted organisms. Ships constructed on or after September 8, 2017 have been obligated to comply with the standards on or after September 8, 2017. We currently have 15 vessels which have a ballast water management system fitted and 30 vessels that do not. 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 by December 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) is required to develop national standards of performance for approximately 30 discharges. In most cases, the future standards will be at least as stringent as the existing EPA 2013 VGP requirements and will be technology-based. Two years thereafter (2022), the U.S. Coast Guard is required to develop corresponding implementation, compliance, and enforcement regulations. These may include requirements governing the design, construction, testing, approval, installation, and use of devices to achieve the EPA national standards of performance.
The new regulations could require the installation of new equipment, which may cause us to incur substantial costs.
Risks Relating to our Common Stock and Depositary Shares Representing Series B Preferred Shares
We cannot assure you if and when we will pay dividends on our common shares.
We are not currently paying dividends on our common shares. Subject to the limitations contained in the agreements governing our indebtedness, we may resume the distribution of a portion of our cash flow to our shareholders, while retaining the remaining cash flow for costs such as drydockings, reinvestment in our business, funding vessel or fleet acquisitions, making debt repayments and for other purposes, as determined by our board of directors. The timing and amount of any dividends declared will depend on, among other things (a) our results of operations, financial condition, cash flow and cash requirements, (b) our liquidity, including our ability to obtain debt and equity financing on acceptable terms as contemplated by our vessel acquisition strategy, (c) restrictive covenants in our existing and future debt instruments and (d) provisions of Marshall Islands law. The declaration and payment of dividends is also subject at all times to the discretion of our board of directors.
The international containership and containership leasing industry is highly volatile, and we cannot predict with certainty the amount of cash, if any, that will be available for distribution as dividends in any period. Also, there may be a high degree of variability from period to period in the amount of cash, if any, that is available for the payment of dividends. The amount of cash we generate from operations and the actual amount of cash we will have available for dividends in each quarter will vary based upon, among other things:
|·||the charter-hire payments we obtain from our charters as well as the rates obtained upon the expiration of our existing charters;|
|·||acquisition of additional vessels;|
|·||the timing of scheduled drydockings;|
|·||the timing of interest payments, scheduled debt amortization payments and other payments that might be due under our debt facilities;|
|·||delays in the delivery of newbuilding vessels, if any, and the beginning of payments under charters relating to those vessels;|
|·||the level of our operating costs, such as the costs of crews, lubricants and insurance;|
|·||the number of unscheduled off-hire days for our fleet and the timing of, and number of days required for, scheduled dry-docking of our containerships;|
|·||any idle time after one charter expires until a new charter is agreed or the vessel is disposed of, should a new charter not be agreed;|
|·||unexpected repairs to, or required expenditures on, vessels or dry-docking costs in excess of those anticipated;|
|·||the loss of a vessel;|
|·||prevailing global and regional economic and political conditions;|
|·||changes in interest rates;|
|·||the effect of governmental regulations and maritime self-regulatory organization standards on the conduct of our business;|
|·||changes in the basis of taxation of our activities in various jurisdictions;|
|·||modification or revocation of our dividend policy by our board of directors; and|
|·||the amount of any cash reserves established by our board of directors.|
The amount of cash we generate from our operations may differ materially from our net income or loss for the period, which will be affected by non-cash items. We may incur other expenses or liabilities that could reduce or eliminate the cash available for distribution as dividends.
In addition, Marshall Islands law generally prohibits the payment of dividends other than from surplus (retained earnings and the excess of consideration received from the sale of shares above the par value of the shares) or if there is no surplus, from the net profits for the current and prior fiscal years, or while a company is insolvent or if it would be rendered insolvent by the payment of such a dividend. We may not have sufficient surplus or net profits in the future to pay dividends, and our subsidiaries may not have sufficient funds, surplus or net profits to make distributions to us. As a result of these and other factors, we may not be able to pay dividends during periods when we record losses and may not pay dividends during periods when we record net income. We can give no assurance that dividends will be paid in the future.
There may be a substantial number of our common shares available for sale in the future that may adversely affect the market price of our Class A common shares.
On the closing of the Poseidon Transaction, we issued 3,005,603 Class A common shares and 250,000 Series C Preferred Shares, which are convertible into 12,955,187 Class A common shares upon the occurrence of certain events. Further, in connection with the Poseidon Transaction, pursuant to an Amended and Restated Registration Rights Agreement, we registered for resale all Class A common shares, including those issuable upon conversion of the Series C Preferred Shares, held by affiliates of Kelso, CMA CGM, George Giouroukos (our Executive Chairman) through a holding company, Michael S. Gross (our former Chairman and a director) and MAAS Capital Investments B.V. (“Maas Capital”) as of the closing of the Poseidon Transaction. In September 2019, Kelso agreed to convert its Series C Preferred Shares upon our repayment of our 2022 Notes. The registration and availability of such a significant number of securities for trading in the public market may have a material adverse effect on the market price of our Class A common shares.
The price of our securities may be volatile.
The price of our common shares and Depositary Shares representing Series B Preferred Shares may be volatile and may fluctuate due to factors such as:
|·||actual or anticipated fluctuations in our quarterly revenues and results of operations and those of publicly held containership owners or operators;|
|·||market conditions in the industry;|
|·||perceived counterparty risk;|
|·||shortfalls in our operating results from levels forecasted by securities analysts;|
|·||announcements concerning us or other containership owners or operators;|
|·||mergers and strategic alliances in the shipping industry;|
|·||changes in government regulation including taxation; and|
|·||the general state of the securities markets.|
The international containership industry has been highly unpredictable and volatile. The market for common shares and Depositary Shares representing Series B Preferred Shares in companies operating in this industry may be equally volatile.
We have anti-takeover provisions in our organizational documents that may discourage a change of control.
Certain provisions of our articles of incorporation and bylaws may have an anti-takeover effect and may delay, defer or prevent a tender offer or takeover attempt that a shareholder might consider in its best interest, including those attempts that might result in a premium over the market price for the shares held by shareholders.
Certain of these provisions provide for:
|·||a classified board of directors with staggered three-year terms;|
|·||restrictions on business combinations with certain interested shareholders;|
|·||directors only to be removed for cause and only with the affirmative vote of holders of at least a majority of the common shares entitled to vote in the election of directors;|
|·||advance notice for nominations of directors by shareholders and for shareholders to include matters to be considered at annual meetings; and|
|·||a limited ability for shareholders to call special shareholder meetings.|
These anti-takeover provisions could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire us, even if the third party’s offer may be considered beneficial by many shareholders. As a result, shareholders may be limited in their ability to obtain a premium for their shares.
Our management is required to devote substantial time to complying with public company regulations.
As a public company, we incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses. In addition, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (“Sarbanes-Oxley”) as well as rules subsequently adopted by the SEC and the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”), including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, have imposed various requirements on public companies, including changes in corporate governance practices. Our directors, management and other personnel devote a substantial amount of time to comply with these requirements. Moreover, these rules and regulations relating to public companies increase our legal and financial compliance costs and make some activities more time-consuming and costly.
Sarbanes-Oxley requires, among other things, that we maintain and periodically evaluate our internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures. In particular, under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, we are required to include in each of our annual reports on Form 20-F a report containing our management’s assessment of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting and, if we are an accelerated filer or a large accelerated filer, a related attestation of our independent registered public accounting firm. While we did not identify any material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in our internal controls under the current assessment, we cannot be certain at this time that our internal controls will be considered effective in future assessments and that our independent registered public accounting firm would reach a similar conclusion. Therefore, we can give no assurances that our internal control over financial reporting will satisfy regulatory requirements in the future.
We are a “foreign private issuer” under the NYSE rules, and as such we are entitled to exemption from certain NYSE corporate governance standards, and you may not have the same protections afforded to shareholders of companies that are subject to all of the NYSE corporate governance requirements.
We are a “foreign private issuer” under the securities laws of the United States and the rules of the NYSE. Under the securities laws of the United States, “foreign private issuers” are subject to different disclosure requirements than U.S. domiciled registrants, as well as different financial reporting requirements. Under the NYSE rules, a “foreign private issuer” is subject to less stringent corporate governance requirements. Subject to certain exceptions, the rules of the NYSE permit a “foreign private issuer” to follow its home country practice in lieu of the listing requirements of the NYSE.
Accordingly, you may not have the same protections afforded to shareholders of companies that are subject to all of the NYSE corporate governance requirements.
Future sales of our common stock could cause the market price of our common stock to decline.
Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market, or the perception that these sales could occur, may depress the market price for our common stock. These sales could also impair our ability to raise additional capital through the sale of our equity securities in the future.
Subject to the rules of the NYSE, in the future, we may issue additional shares of common stock, and other equity securities of equal or senior rank, without shareholder approval, in a number of circumstances. The issuance by us of additional shares of common stock or other equity securities of equal or senior rank would have the following effects:
|·||our existing shareholders’ proportionate ownership interest in us may decrease;|
|·||the dividend amount payable per share on our common stock may be lower;|
|·||the relative voting strength of each previously outstanding share may be diminished; and|
|·||the market price of our common stock may decline.|
Our shareholders also may elect to sell large numbers of shares held by them from time to time. The number of shares of common stock available for sale in the public market will be limited by restrictions applicable under securities laws, and agreements that we and our executive officers, directors and existing shareholders may enter into with the underwriters at the time of an offering. Subject to certain exceptions, these agreements generally restrict us and our executive officers, directors and existing shareholders from directly or indirectly offering, selling, pledging, hedging or otherwise disposing of our equity securities or any security that is convertible into or exercisable or exchangeable for our equity securities and from engaging in certain other transactions relating to such securities for a period of 180 days after the date of an offering prospectus without the prior written consent of the underwriter(s).
We may not have sufficient cash from our operations to enable us to pay dividends on or to redeem our Series B Preferred Shares, and accordingly the Depositary Shares, as the case may be.
We pay quarterly dividends on the Series B Preferred Shares, and accordingly the Depositary Shares, only from funds legally available for such purpose when, as and if declared by our board of directors. We may not have sufficient cash available each quarter to pay dividends. In addition, if our board of directors does not authorize and declare a dividend for any dividend period prior to the relevant dividend payment date, holders of the Series B Preferred Shares and accordingly the Depositary Shares would not be entitled to receive a dividend for that dividend period. However, any unpaid dividends will accumulate. In addition, we have the option to redeem the Series B Preferred Shares, and accordingly the Depositary Shares, although we may have insufficient cash available to do so or may otherwise elect not to do so.
The amount of cash we can use to pay dividends or redeem our Series B Preferred Shares and the Depositary Shares depends upon the amount of cash we generate from our operations, which may fluctuate significantly, and other factors, including the following:
|·||changes in our operating cash flow, capital expenditure requirements, working capital requirements and other cash needs;|
|·||the amount of any cash reserves established by our board of directors;|
|·||restrictions under Marshall Islands law as described below;|
|·||restrictions under our credit facilities and other instruments and agreements governing our existing and future debt as described below; and|
|·||our overall financial and operating performance, which, in turn, is subject to prevailing economic and competitive conditions and to the risks associated with the shipping industry and the other factors (see “—Risks Related to our Business” above), many of which are beyond our control.|
The amount of cash we generate from our operations may differ materially from our net income or loss for the period, which will be affected by noncash items, and our board of directors in its discretion may elect not to declare any dividends. We may incur other expenses or liabilities that could reduce or eliminate the cash available for distribution as dividends. As a result of these and the other factors mentioned above, we may pay dividends during periods when we record losses and may not pay dividends during periods when we record net income.
Our ability to pay dividends on and to redeem our Series B Preferred Shares is limited by the requirements of Marshall Islands law and by our contractual obligations.
Marshall Islands law provides that we may pay dividends on and redeem the Series B Preferred Shares only to the extent that assets are legally available for such purposes. Legally available assets generally are limited to our surplus, which essentially represents our retained earnings and the excess of consideration received by us for the sale of shares above the par value of the shares. In addition, under Marshall Islands law we may not pay dividends on or redeem Series B Preferred Shares if we are insolvent or would be rendered insolvent by the payment of such a dividend or the making of such redemption.
Further, the terms of our credit facilities may prohibit us from declaring or paying any dividends or distributions on preferred stock, including the Series B Preferred Shares, or redeeming, purchasing, acquiring or making a liquidation payment on preferred stock in certain circumstances. The indenture governing our 2022 Notes, as well as the related Citi Credit Facility (as defined herein), prohibit us from redeeming shares, including the Series B Preferred Shares, and accordingly, the Depositary Shares representing Series B Preferred Shares.
Risks Related to Tax Matters
Our operating income could fail to qualify for an exemption from U.S. federal income taxation, which would reduce our cash flow.
We do not expect to be engaged in a U.S. trade or business. In the case of a foreign corporation that is not so engaged, the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), imposes a 4% U.S. federal income tax (without allowance of any deductions) on 50% of the corporation’s gross transportation income that is attributable to transportation that begins or ends, but that does not both begin and end, in the United States, unless the corporation qualifies for the exemption provided in Section 883 of the Code or an applicable income tax treaty. The imposition of this tax could have a negative effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Under the charter agreements, the charterer has agreed to provide reimbursement for any such taxes as the charterer determines where each vessel trades.
We will qualify for the exemption under Section 883 if, among other things, our stock is treated as primarily and regularly traded on an established securities market in the United States. However, under the Treasury regulations, a class of stock will not be treated as primarily and regularly traded on an established securities market if, during more than half the number of days during the taxable year, one or more shareholders who actually or constructively own at least 5% of the vote and value of the outstanding shares of such class of stock (“5% Shareholders”), own, in the aggregate, 50% or more of the vote and value of the outstanding shares of such class of stock, unless a sufficient amount of stock is owned by 5% Shareholders that are considered to be “qualified shareholders” to preclude non-qualifying 5% Shareholders from owning 50% or more of the total value of the stock held by the 5% Shareholders group.
Generally, a 5% Shareholder is a qualified 5% Shareholder if the 5% Shareholder is an individual who is a resident of a qualified foreign country, the government of a qualified foreign country, a foreign corporation organized in a qualified foreign country that meets the “publicly-traded” test discussed herein, a non-profit organization organized in a qualified foreign country or an individual beneficiary (resident in a qualified foreign country) of a pension plan administered in or by a qualified foreign country. Generally, a foreign country is a qualified foreign country if it grants an equivalent exemption from tax to corporations organized in the United States.
Based on information that we have as to our shareholders and other matters, we believe that we qualified for the Section 883 exemption for 2009 through 2018 under the “publicly-traded” test. We do not believe that we were able to satisfy the “publicly-traded” test for 2019 and, consequently, we were not exempt from U.S. federal income taxation on our U.S. source gross transportation income. Whether we may satisfy the “publicly-traded” test for 2020 and future taxable years depends on factors that are outside of our control, and we cannot provide any assurances that we will or will not satisfy the “publicly-traded” test to claim exemption from U.S. taxation for 2020 or future taxable years. See Item “10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—Taxation of Global Ship Lease—The Section 883 exemption” for a more comprehensive discussion of the U.S. federal income tax rules related to Section 883.
Under our charter agreements, our charterers have agreed to reimburse any such taxes. However, if our charterers do not provide such reimbursement, this will have a negative impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
We could be taxed as a U.S. corporation.
Section 7874 of the Code provides that a foreign corporation which acquires substantially all the properties of a U.S. corporation is generally treated as though it were a U.S. corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes if, after the acquisition, at least 80% (by vote or value) of the stock of the foreign corporation is owned by former shareholders of the U.S. corporation by reason of owning stock in the U.S. corporation. Although we believe that this rule should not apply to us in the context of the Marathon Merger, there is no definitive legal authority applying the principles of Section 7874 of the Code and therefore there can be no assurance that the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) would not seek to challenge such position, or that such a challenge would not be successful. If we were to be treated as a U.S. corporation, our net income would be subject to U.S. federal corporate income tax, currently imposed at a rate of 21%. The imposition of this tax would likely have a negative effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Certain adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences could arise for U.S. holders.
Shareholders of a “passive foreign investment company,” or PFIC, that are U.S. persons within the meaning of the Code (“U.S. shareholders”) are subject to a disadvantageous U.S. federal income tax regime with respect to the distributions they receive from a PFIC and the gain, if any, they derive from the sale or other disposition of their shares in a PFIC (as discussed below). In addition, dividends paid by a PFIC do not constitute qualified dividend income and, hence, are ineligible for the preferential rate of tax that applies to qualified dividend income.
A foreign corporation is treated as a PFIC if either (1) 75% or more of its gross income for any taxable year consists of certain types of “passive income” or (2) 50% or more of the average value of the corporation’s assets produce or are held for the production of those types of “passive income.” For purposes of these tests, “passive income” includes dividends, interest and gains from the sale or exchange of investment property and rents and royalties other than rents and royalties which are received from unrelated parties in connection with the active conduct of a trade or business; income derived from the performance of services does not, however, constitute “passive income.”
Based on the projected composition of our income and valuation of our assets, we do not expect that we will constitute a PFIC with respect to the current or any future taxable year, although there can be no assurance in this regard. Our expectation is based principally on the position that, for purposes of determining whether we are a PFIC, the majority, if not all, of the gross income we derive from our chartering activities should constitute services income rather than rental income.
In this regard, we have been advised by our tax advisor that the income from our chartering activities is, more likely than not, services income. There is, however, no direct legal authority under the PFIC rules addressing our current and projected future operations or supporting our position. Accordingly, no assurance can be given that the IRS will not assert that we are a PFIC with respect to any taxable year, nor that a court would not uphold any such assertion and we have not obtained advice from our tax advisor on whether we are a PFIC.
Further, in a case not concerning PFICs, Tidewater Inc. v. U.S., 2009-1 USTC ¶ 50,337, the Fifth Circuit held that a vessel time charter at issue generated rental, rather than services, income. However, the court’s ruling was contrary to the position of the IRS that the time charter income should be treated as services income. Subsequently, the IRS has stated that it disagrees with and will not acquiesce to the rental versus services distinction in the Tidewater decision, and in its discussion stated that the time charters at issue in Tidewater would be treated as producing services income for PFIC purposes. The IRS’s statement with respect to Tidewater cannot be relied upon or otherwise cited as precedent by taxpayers. Further, the facts in Tidewater are not directly analogous to our facts. No assurance can be given that the IRS or a court of law would accept our position, and there is a risk that the IRS or a court of law could determine that the company is a PFIC.
If the IRS were to determine that we are or have been a PFIC for any taxable year, our U.S. shareholders will face adverse U.S. tax consequences. Distributions paid by us with respect to our shares will not constitute qualified dividend income if we were a PFIC in the year we pay a dividend or in the prior taxable year and, hence, will not be eligible for the preferential rate of tax that applies to qualified dividend income. In addition, our U.S. shareholders (other than shareholders who have made a “qualified electing fund” or “mark-to-market” election) will be subject to special rules relating to the taxation of “excess distributions”—with excess distributions being defined to include certain distributions we may make on our Class A common shares as well as gain recognized by a U.S. holder on a disposition of our Class A common shares. In general, the amount of any “excess distribution” will be allocated ratably to each day of the U.S. holder’s holding period for our Class A common shares. The amount allocated to the current year and any taxable year prior to the first taxable year for which we were a PFIC will be included in the U.S. holder’s gross income for the current year as ordinary income. With respect to amounts allocated to prior years for which we were a PFIC, the tax imposed for the current year will be increased by the “deferred tax amount,” which is an amount calculated with respect to each prior year by multiplying the amount allocated to such year by the highest rate of tax in effect for such year, together with an interest charge as though the amounts of tax were overdue. See Item 10.E. “Additional Information—Taxation —Tax Consequences of Holding Class A common shares—Consequences of possible passive foreign investment company classification” for a more comprehensive discussion of the U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. shareholders if we were treated as a PFIC (including those applicable to U.S. shareholders who make a qualified electing fund or mark-to-market election).
We may be subject to taxation on all or part of our income in the United Kingdom, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.
If we or our vessel owning subsidiaries were considered to be a resident of the United Kingdom (or “UK”) or to have a permanent establishment in the United Kingdom, all or a part of our profits could be subject to UK corporate tax, which had a maximum rate of 24%, 23% and 21% for the years ended March 31, 2013, 2014 and 2015, respectively, and 20% thereafter. We and our vessel owning subsidiaries are strategically managed and controlled from outside the United Kingdom and have restricted activities within the United Kingdom. Certain intra-group services are provided from within the United Kingdom and UK corporate tax will be payable on the arms-length price for those services. The appropriate arms-length price in these circumstances is likely to be a matter of negotiation with the UK taxing authorities.
We do not believe that we or our vessel owning subsidiaries are residents of the United Kingdom, or that we or our vessel owning subsidiaries have permanent establishments in the United Kingdom. However, because some administrative and executive services are provided to us or our vessel owning subsidiaries by a subsidiary company located in the United Kingdom and certain of our directors reside in the United Kingdom, and because UK statutory and case law fail to definitively identify the activities that constitute a trade being carried on in the United Kingdom through a permanent establishment, the UK taxing authorities may contend that we or our vessel owning subsidiaries are subject to UK corporate tax on all of our income, or on a greater portion of our income than we currently expect to be taxed. If the UK taxing authorities made such a contention, we could incur substantial legal costs defending our position, and, if we were unsuccessful in our defense, our results of operations would be materially adversely affected.
We may be subject to taxes which will reduce our cash flow.
We and our vessel owning subsidiaries are subject to tax in certain jurisdictions in which we are organized, own assets or have operations, which reduces the amount of our cash available for distribution. In computing our tax obligations in these jurisdictions, we are required to take various tax accounting and reporting positions on matters that are not entirely free from doubt and for which we have not received rulings from the governing authorities. We cannot assure you that upon review of these positions, the applicable authorities will agree with our positions. A successful challenge by a tax authority, or a change in law in a jurisdiction in which we operate (including Cyprus and Hong Kong, where a number of our vessel owning subsidiaries are entered in the local tonnage tax regime), could result in additional tax imposed on us, further reducing the cash available for distribution.
|Item 4.||Information on the Company|
A. History and Development of the Company
Our legal and commercial name is Global Ship Lease, Inc. We are a Republic of the Marshall Islands corporation that owns a fleet of mid-sized and smaller containerships which we charter out under fixed-rate charters to reputable container shipping companies. The mailing address of our principal executive office is c/o Global Ship Lease Services Limited, 25 Wilton Road, London SW1V 1LW, United Kingdom, and our telephone number at that address is +44 (0) 20 3998 0063. Our agent in the United States is Puglisi & Associates, 850 Library Avenue, Suite 204, Newark, Delaware 19711. The SEC maintains an Internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC. The address of the SEC’s Internet site is www.sec.gov. Our website address is www.globalshiplease.com. None of the information contained on these websites is incorporated herein by reference or forms a part of this Annual Report. From time to time, we may use our website and social media outlets as channels of distribution of material company information.
We were formed in 2007 to purchase and charter back 17 containerships then owned or to be purchased by CMA CGM, at that time the third largest containership operator in the world by number of vessels. On August 14, 2008, we merged indirectly with Marathon Acquisition Corp. (“Marathon”), a company then listed on the American Stock Exchange. Under the merger agreement, Marathon, a U.S. corporation, first merged with its wholly-owned Marshall Islands subsidiary, GSL Holdings, Inc. (“Holdings”), with Holdings continuing as the surviving company. Global Ship Lease, Inc., at that time a subsidiary of CMA CGM, then merged with Holdings, with Holdings again being the surviving company. Holdings was renamed Global Ship Lease, Inc. and became listed on the NYSE on August 15, 2008.
On November 15, 2018, we completed the Poseidon Transaction, a transformative transaction by which we acquired 20 containerships, one of which was contracted to be sold. On the closing of the Poseidon Transaction, we issued as consideration 3,005,603 Class A common shares and 250,000 Series C Preferred Shares, which are convertible to an aggregate of 12,955,187 Class A common shares in certain circumstances, and assumed the debt of Poseidon Containers, which amounted to $509.7 million as of November 15, 2018.
On January 2, 2019, as a consequence of the completion of the Poseidon Transaction, all of our issued and outstanding Class B common shares converted one-for-one into Class A common shares. On March 25, 2019, we effected a one-for-eight reverse stock split of our Class A common shares, which our shareholders authorized at our special meeting of shareholders held on March 20, 2019. There was no change to the trading symbol, number of authorized shares, or par value of our Class A common shares in connection with the reverse stock split. All share and per share amounts disclosed in this Annual Report give effect to the reverse stock split retroactively, for all periods presented.
As of March 31, 2020, we owned 45 mid-sized and smaller containerships, of which nine are new-design, high-specification, fuel-efficient, and wide-beam.
Class A Common Shares
On October 1, 2019, we closed our upsized fully underwritten public offering of 7,613,788 Class A common shares, at a public offering price of $7.25 per share, for gross proceeds of approximately $55.2 million, (the “October 2019 Equity Offering”). This includes the exercise in full by the underwriter of its option to purchase additional shares. The net proceeds, after underwriting discounts and commissions and expenses, were approximately $50.7 million. Certain members of our executive management purchased an aggregate of 168,968 Class A common shares in the October 2019 Equity Offering at the public offering price, for which the underwriter did not receive any discount or commissions.
On November 19, 2019, we issued $27.5 million aggregate principal amount of our 8.00% Senior Unsecured Notes due 2024 (the “2024 Notes”) in an underwritten public offering, and on November 27, 2019, we issued an additional $4.125 million aggregate principal amount of 2024 Notes pursuant to the underwriters’ exercise of their option to purchase additional 2024 Notes, resulting in aggregate net proceeds to us of approximately $29.6 million, after the payment of underwriting discounts and commissions and offering expenses, (the “November 2019 Notes Offering”). Certain members of our executive management purchased $300,000 aggregate principal amount of 2024 Notes in the November 2019 Notes Offering, for which the underwriters did not receive any discount or commissions.
On November 27, 2019, we launched an “at the market” offering program (the “2024 Notes ATM Program”), pursuant to which we may sell, from time to time, up to an additional $68.0 million of 2024 Notes. As of March 31, 2020, we have issued and sold approximately $27.3 million aggregate principal amount of 2024 Notes under the 2024 Notes ATM Program, resulting in net proceeds to us of approximately $26.6 million.
Depositary Shares ATM Program
On December 10, 2019, we launched an “at the market” offering program (the “Depositary Shares ATM Program”), pursuant to which we may sell, from time to time, up to $75.0 million of our depositary shares (the “Depositary Shares”), each of which represents 1/100th of one share of our 8.75% Series B Cumulative Redeemable Perpetual Preferred Shares, par value $0.01 per share, with a liquidation preference of $2,500.00 per share (equivalent to $25.00 per Depositary Share). As of March 31, 2020, we have issued and sold approximately 0.2 million of our Depositary Shares under the Depositary Shares ATM Program, resulting in net proceeds to us of approximately $5.1 million.
Recent and Other Developments
Optional Partial Redemption of 2022 Notes
On February 10, 2020, we used the net proceeds from our offering of 2024 Notes and cash on hand to redeem $46.0 million aggregate principal amount of our 2022 Notes. Following the optional partial redemption, approximately $276.7 million aggregate principal amount of 2022 Notes remains outstanding.
On February 13, 2020, we refinanced our DVB Credit Facility which had a maturity date in December 2020, through the utilization of the $38.0 million second tranche of our Syndicated Senior Facility (as described herein), as well as an additional new facility of $9.0 million with an international lender. The second tranche of the Syndicated Senior Facility is secured by the vessel Mary, and the new $9.0 million facility is secured by the vessels Maira, Nikolas and Newyorker.
In March 2020, pending disposal, the Company agreed to a short-term charter to commence April 4, 2020, for GSL Matisse, at a confidential rate.
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that originated in China in December 2019 and that, as of the date of this report, has spread to most developed nations of the world has resulted in the implementation of numerous actions taken by governments and governmental agencies in an attempt to control or mitigate the spread of the virus. These measures have resulted in a significant reduction in global economic activity and uncertainty in the global financial markets. When these measures and the resulting economic impact will end and what the long-term impact of such measures is on the global economy cannot be known at this time. A significant reduction in manufacturing and other economic activities has and will continue to have a material and adverse impact on the global production and supply of the goods that our customers transport on our vessels. The scale and duration, as well as the impact, of these factors, while currently uncertain, could have a material and adverse impact on our earnings, cash flows and financial condition for 2020. Accordingly, an estimate of the impact cannot be made at this time.
B. Business Overview
The table below provides certain information about our fleet of 45 containerships as of March 31, 2020:
|Vessel Name||Capacity |
|Year Built||Charterer||Earliest Charter |
|Latest Charter |
|Daily Charter |
|CMA CGM Thalassa||11,040||38,577||2008||CMA CGM||4Q25||1Q26||47,200|
|UASC Al Khor(1)||9,115||31,764||2015||Hapag-Lloyd||1Q22||2Q22||34,000|
|Olivia I(1)||6,882||23,864||2015||CMA CGM||1Q24||2Q24||25,910|
|CMA CGM Berlioz||6,621||26,776||2001||CMA CGM||2Q21||4Q21||34,000|
|New Purchase One||6,422||27,954||2002||Confidential||2Q20||3Q20||Confidential (4)|
|New Purchase Two||6,422||28,070||2002||Confidential||2Q20||4Q20||Confidential (4)|
|GSL Vinia||6,080||23,737||2004||Confidential||2Q24||1Q25||Confidential (5)|
|GSL Christel Elisabeth||6,080||23,745||2004||Confidential||2Q24||1Q25||Confidential (5)|
|CMA CGM Alcazar||5,089||20,087||2007||CMA CGM||4Q20||2Q21||33,750|
|CMA CGM Château d’If||5,089||19,994||2007||CMA CGM||4Q20||2Q21||33,750|
|CMA CGM Jamaica||4,298||17,272||2006||CMA CGM||3Q22||1Q23||25,350|
|CMA CGM Sambhar||4,045||17,429||2006||CMA CGM||3Q22||1Q23||25,350|
|CMA CGM America||4,045||17,428||2006||CMA CGM||3Q22||1Q23||25,350|
|GSL La Tour||2,272||11,742||2001||MSC||4Q20||4Q20||8,800|
|Utrillo||2,262||11,676||1999||CMA CGM||1Q20||1Q20||8,500 (10)|
|GSL Keta||2,207||11,731||2003||OOCL||3Q20||3Q20||9,400 (11)|
|GSL Julie||2,207||11,731||2002||CMA CGM||2Q20||2Q20||8,500|
|Marie Delmas||2,207||11,731||2002||CMA CGM||4Q20||1Q21||9,800|
(1) Modern design, high reefer capacity fuel efficient vessels
(2) Five-year charters which commenced 2Q2019
(3) GSL Eleni delivered 3Q2019 and is chartered for five years; GSL Kalliopi (delivered 4Q2019) and GSL Grania (delivered 3Q2019) are chartered for three years plus two successive periods of one year at the option of the charterer.
(4) New Purchase One was delivered in late January 2020 and New Purchase Two was delivered in February 2020. The initial charter of New Purchase One was extended by 70 - 90 days and, if not extended further, will now expire in 2Q2020 or 3Q2020.
(5) GSL Vinia and GSL Christel Elisabeth delivered in December 2019 and are contracted on 52 – 60 months charters.
(6) 12-month extension at charterer’s option callable in 2Q2022, at an increased rate of $20,000 per day.
(7) 12-month extension at charterer’s option callable in 2Q2020, at an increased rate of $10,000 per day;
(8) Rate increases to $9,000 per day from April 1, 2020;
(9) A new short-term charter, on confidential terms, is expected to commence on or around April 4, 2020, expiring later that month.
(10) Charter with CMA CGM expired February 16, 2020; a new short-term charter, to a different counterparty and on confidential terms, commenced February 29, 2020.
(11) Charter extended from April 9, 2020, at a confidential rate
As of December 31, 2019, adjusted to include the two containerships which delivered early in 2020, our fleet consisted of 45 containerships with an aggregate capacity of 248,968 TEU and a TEU-weighted average age of approximately 12.8 years.
In the second quarter of 2019, we entered into an agreement to acquire three 2004-built 7,847 TEU containerships (GSL Eleni, GSL Kalliopi and GSL Grania) for an aggregate purchase price of $48.5 million. GSL Eleni had a five-year charter with Maersk Line, and GSL Grania and GSL Kalliopi each had three-year charters with Maersk Line, with two consecutive one-year extensions at the charterer’s option. A portion of the purchase price has been financed by borrowings under a new senior secured debt facility totaling $37.0 million with a maturity date in October 2024, which we refer to herein as the Hellenic Credit Facility, and the remaining amount was funded with cash on hand. The three vessels were delivered to us in the third and fourth quarters of 2019.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, we entered into an agreement to acquire two 2002-built 6,422 TEU Post-Panamax containerships for an aggregate purchase price which is approximately $3.0 million above the vessels’ scrap value. The first vessel was delivered in January 2020 and the second vessel was delivered in February 2020. The vessels have charters in place through the end of the first quarter of 2020 and the middle of the third quarter of 2020, respectively (based upon the mid-point of each charter redelivery window). We expect to partially finance the acquisition of these vessels with new debt facilities.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, we entered into agreements to acquire two 2004-built 6,080 TEU containerships, GSL Christel Elisabeth and Verdi (renamed GSL Vinia), for an aggregate purchase price of $24.5 million. The vessels, which have bows optimized for fuel efficiency at lower operating speeds, have charters in place with a leading liner operator for a minimum of 52 months/maximum of 60 months. The vessels were delivered to us in the fourth quarter of 2019. A portion of the purchase price was financed by drawing down $22.0 million under an amended and restated loan agreement with Hellenic Bank that provided for additional borrowing capacity in that amount.
A time charter is a contract for the use of a vessel for a fixed period of time at a specified daily rate. Under a time charter, the vessel owner provides crew, lubricating oil, all maintenance and other services related to the vessel’s operation, the cost of which is included in the daily rate. The vessel owner is also responsible for insuring its interests in the vessel and liabilities as owner arising from its use. The charterer is responsible for substantially all of the vessel’s voyage costs, such as fuel (bunker) costs, canal fees, port expenses, extra war risk insurance costs if the vessel is deployed outside normal insurance limits and for entering areas which are specified by the insurance underwriters as being subject to additional premiums and cargo handling charges.
The initial term for a time charter commences on the vessel’s delivery to the charterer. Time charter agreements may include options, in favor of the owner or the charterer, to extend the charter on pre-agreed terms. At the end of a charter, the vessel may be re-delivered by the charterer within a pre-agreed time window, to allow for operational flexibility. Charters may be extended on mutually agreed terms, or the vessel is re-delivered, in which case we would seek alternate employment with another charterer.
Our charters expire on different dates and over a period of time. We believe the staggered expirations of our charters reduces our exposure to rechartering risk and may mitigate the impact of the cyclical nature of the container shipping industry.
Daily Charter Rate
Daily charter rate refers to the gross amount per day payable by the charterer to the owner for the use of the vessel. It may be reduced by chartering commission payable to a broker or other party. Under our time charters, hire is payable to us typically every 15 days in advance and in U.S. dollars. The daily charter rate is a fixed daily amount that will remain the same for the duration of the charter, although the charter rate can be reduced in certain circumstances where there are added costs to the charterer due to vessel performance deficiencies in speed or fuel consumption. Hire can also be reduced, pro-rata for any cost savings that we may realize, if the vessel is laid up or idled at the charterers’ request.
Operations and Expenses
As owners, we are required to maintain each vessel in class and in an efficient state of hull and machinery and are responsible for vessel costs such as crewing, lubricating oil, maintenance, insurance and drydocking. The charterer is responsible for the voyage costs, which includes bunker fuel, stevedoring, port charges and towage. As described below, we have entered into ship management agreements to sub-contract the day-to-day technical management of our vessels.
Right of First Refusal
Pursuant to the terms of the initial time charters with CMA CGM, of which 11 were in place at December 31, 2019, CMA CGM has a right of first refusal to purchase the vessel at matching terms to any offer of any third party if we decide to sell it during, or at the end of, the charter period. Should CMA CGM decline to exercise its right of first refusal in case of a sale during the charter period, we will be entitled to sell the vessel, subject to CMA CGM’s prior approval, which shall not be unreasonably withheld. CMA CGM has the right to reject a sale of a vessel to owners whose business or shareholding is determined to be detrimental or contrary to its interest.
Under a time charter, when the vessel is not available for service, and is “off-hire,” the charterer generally is not required to pay charter hire (unless the charterer is responsible for the circumstances giving rise to the ship’s unavailability), and we are responsible for costs during any off-hire period, and possible additional costs of fuel to regain lost time. A vessel generally will be deemed to be off-hire if there is an occurrence that affects the full working condition of the vessel, including:
|·||any drydocking for repairs, maintenance or classification society inspection;|
|·||any damage, defect, breakdown or deficiency of the ship’s hull, machinery or equipment or repairs or maintenance thereto;|
|·||any deficiency of the ship’s master, officers and/or crew, including the failure, refusal or inability of the ship’s master, officers and/or crew to perform the service immediately required, whether or not within its control;|
|·||its deviation, other than to save life or property, which results in the charterer’s lost time;|
|·||crewing labor boycotts or certain vessel arrests; or|
|·||our failure to maintain the vessel in compliance with the charter’s requirements, such as maintaining operational certificates.|
Ship Management and Maintenance
Under each of our time charters, we are responsible for the operation and technical management of each vessel, which includes crewing, provision of lubricating oils, maintaining the vessel, periodic drydocking and performing work required by regulations. The day-to-day crewing and technical management of our vessels are provided by our ship managers pursuant to the terms of ship management agreements.
Termination and Withdrawal
Generally, if a vessel is off-hire for a significant number of consecutive days, then the charterer may cancel the charter without any further consequential claims provided the vessel is free of cargo. The number of these days varies from 20 to 90 days and depends on the relevant charter agreement. Some of our charters provide that we can in some circumstances provide a substitute vessel during an anticipated extended period of off-hire.
For a number of vessels chartered to CMA CGM, if a vessel’s fuel consumption exceeds a level specified in the charter over a continuous period of 30 days, and the reason is within our or the vessel’s control, CMA CGM may request that we cure the deficiency. If the deficiency is not cured within 30 days after we receive notice, then CMA CGM may terminate the charter.
Generally, if either party informs the other party of a default under the charter, and the default is not rectified within 60 days of such notice, then the party giving the notice has the right to terminate the time charter with respect to that vessel.
The charter will terminate in the event of a total (actual or constructive) loss of the vessel or if the vessel is requisitioned.
We may suspend the performance of our obligations under the charter if the charterer defaults on its payment obligations under the charter.
Management of Our Fleet
Our management team supervises the day-to-day technical ship management of our vessels which is provided by Technomar, a company in which our Executive Chairman is a significant shareholder. Additionally, as of December 31, 2019, 25 vessels were commercially managed by Conchart, a company in which our Executive Chairman is the sole beneficial owner.
As of December 31, 2019, Technomar provided day-to-day technical ship management services on all of our vessels.
Under the ship management agreements, our ship managers are responsible for all day-to-day ship management, including crewing, purchasing stores, lubricating oils and spare parts, paying wages, pensions and insurance for the crew, and organizing other vessel operating necessities, including the arrangement and management of drydocking. We reimburse the ship managers for the costs they incur on our behalf. Each ship management agreement provides that we have the right to audit the accounts of our ship manager to verify the costs incurred. The ship managers have agreed to maintain our vessels so that they remain in class with valid certification. In addition, they are responsible for our current fleet’s compliance with all applicable government and other regulations, and compliance with class certifications.
We pay Technomar a daily management fee of Euro 685, payable in U.S. dollars at an agreed rate of exchange, which, in addition to the technical ship management services noted above, includes administrative support services provided to the GSL group including accounting and financial reporting, treasury management services and legal services.
The ship managers are required to use their best endeavors to provide the services specified in the ship management agreements. Pursuant to the terms of the ship management agreements, we provide customary indemnification to the manager and its employees, agents and sub-contractors.
The ship management agreements with Technomar are for a minimum term of 36 months. The management agreements may be terminated by either party by giving six months’ written notice with termination to be effective no sooner than the expiry of the minimum term. A termination payment of 50% of the annual fee is payable if the management agreement is terminated by the mangers and a termination fee of two times the annual fee is payable if the management agreement is terminated by the owners.
Either party may terminate a ship management agreement in the event of default, which has not been cured, an order being made or a resolution being passed for the winding up, dissolution or bankruptcy of either party, or if a receiver is appointed, or if it suspends payment, ceases to carry on business or makes a special arrangement with its creditors. The ship management agreement will also terminate if the vessel becomes a total loss, is declared as a constructive or compromised or arranged total loss, is requisitioned or sold.
Commercial management of vessels includes evaluating possible daily rate and duration of future employment, marketing a vessel for such employment, agreeing the detailed terms of a new charter or extension of an existing charter, administering the conduct of the charter including collection of charter-hire where necessary. Commercial management also includes negotiating sale and purchase transactions.
Global Ship Lease Services Limited (“GSLS”), a wholly owned subsidiary of the company, is the commercial manager for the 18 vessels provided as security under the 2022 Notes and Citi Credit Facility. It has entered into a Commercial Advisory Services and Exclusive Brokerage Services Agreement (“EBSA”) with Conchart, whereby Conchart is appointed to provide commercial advisory and exclusive brokerage services.
GSLS has agreed to pay Conchart a commission of 1.25% on all monies earned under each charter fixture, other than charters with CMA CGM, and 1.00% commission on any sale and purchase transaction. No commission is payable on any charter of a vessel in the GSL Fleet to CMA CGM in place as of November 15, 2018, or extension thereof. Also, no commission is payable to Conchart in cases when not more than 30 days have elapsed between the conclusion of a new charter to CMA CGM and the end of a preexisting CMA CGM charter which was in place on November 15, 2018, provided that the relevant vessel has not been chartered to any non-CMA CGM charterer in the period between the two CMA CGM charters. For any other new charters to CMA CGM or its affiliates, the rate of commission is 0.75%. However, no commission is payable for such charters if CMA CGM or its affiliates waive their own address commission.
The EBSA has a minimum term of three years and can thereafter be terminated on six months’ notice in which case a termination payment of six times the average monthly commission paid in the previous six months is due if the EBSA is terminated by Conchart and 12 times the average monthly commission paid in the previous six months is due if the EBSA is terminated by GSLS. The EBSA may also be terminated by one party on change of control in the other party. Either party may terminate the EBSA in the event of default, which has not been cured, an order being made or a resolution being passed for the winding up, dissolution or bankruptcy of either party, or if a receiver is appointed, or if it suspends payment, ceases to carry on business or makes a special arrangement with its creditors.
The remaining vessels are subject to a Commercial Management Agreement directly with Conchart, on terms substantially similar to those of the EBSA.
We arrange for insurance coverage for each of our vessels, including hull and machinery insurance, protection and indemnity insurance and war risk insurance. We are responsible for the payment of all premiums. See “—Risk of Loss and Liability Insurance.”
Inspection by Classification Societies
The hull and machinery of every commercial vessel must be classed by a classification society authorized by the vessel’s 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 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea of 1974, or SOLAS Convention. Most insurance underwriters make it a condition for insurance coverage that a vessel be certified “in class” by a classification society which is a member of the International Association of Classification Societies, the IACS. All of our vessels are certified as being “in class” by all the applicable Classification Societies.
For maintenance of the class, regular and extraordinary surveys of hull and machinery, including the electrical plant and any special equipment classed, are required to be performed as follows:
For seagoing ships, annual surveys are conducted for the hull and the machinery, including the electrical plant, and where applicable, on special equipment classed at intervals of 12 months from the date of commencement of the class period indicated in the certificate.
Extended annual surveys are referred to as intermediate surveys and typically are conducted two and one-half years after commissioning and each class renewal. Intermediate surveys may be carried out on the occasion of the second or third annual survey.
Class Renewal Surveys
Class renewal surveys, also known as special surveys, are carried out on the ship’s hull and machinery, including the electrical plant, and on any special equipment classed at the intervals indicated by the character of classification for the hull. During the special survey, the vessel is thoroughly examined, including audio-gauging to determine the thickness of the steel structures. Should the thickness be found to be less than class requirements, the classification society would prescribe steel renewals. Substantial amounts of funds may have to be spent for steel renewals to pass a special survey if the vessel experiences excessive wear and tear. In lieu of the special survey, which is generally every five years, a shipowner has the option of arranging with the classification society for the vessel’s hull or machinery to be on a continuous survey cycle, in which every part of the vessel would be surveyed within a five-year cycle. At a ship-owner’s application, the surveys required for class renewal may be split according to an agreed schedule to extend over the entire period of class. This process is referred to as continuous class renewal. All areas subject to surveys as defined by the classification society are required to be surveyed at least once per class period, unless shorter intervals between surveys are otherwise prescribed. The period between two consecutive surveys of each area must not exceed five years.
All vessels are also dry-docked at least once every five years for inspection of their underwater parts and for repairs related to such inspections. If any defects are found, the classification surveyor will issue a “recommendation” which must be rectified by the ship-owner within prescribed time limits.
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.
The following table shows the classification societies for our vessels and lists the month by which they need to have completed their next drydocking:
|Vessel Name||Classification Society||Drydocking Month(1)|
|CMA CGM Thalassa||Bureau Veritas||Dec-23|
|UASC Al Khor||DNV-GL & RINA||Jun-20|
|Anthea Y||DNV-GL & RINA||Aug-20|
|Maira XL||DNV-GL & RINA||Aug-20|
|MSC Tianjin||American Bureau of Shipping||Mar-20|
|MSC Qingdao||Bureau Veritas||Oct-24|
|GSL Ningbo||Bureau Veritas||Sep-24|
|Alexis||DNV-GL & RINA||Jul-24|
|Olivia I||DNV-GL & RINA||Jul-24|
|CMA CGM Berlioz||Bureau Veritas||Jul-21|
|Agios Dimitrios||Bureau Veritas||Jan-21|
|New Purchase One||Lloyd’s Register||Jan-23|
|New Purchase Two||Lloyd’s Register||Dec-22|
|GSL Vinia(2)||Bureau Veritas||Mar-25|
|GSL Christel Elisabeth||Bureau Veritas||Jan-25|
|Dimitris Y||Bureau Veritas||May-20|
|Ian H||Bureau Veritas||Jul-20|
|Dolphin II||Bureau Veritas||Jan-22|
|Orca I||Bureau Veritas||Nov-21|
|CMA CGM Alcazar||Bureau Veritas||Nov-22|
|CMA CGM Château d’If||Bureau Veritas||May-22|
|CMA CGM Jamaica||DNV-GL||Sep-21|
|CMA CGM Sambhar||Lloyd’s Register||Jul-21|
|CMA CGM America||Lloyd’s Register||Dec-20|
|GSL La Tour||Bureau Veritas||Jun-21|
|GSL Matisse||Bureau Veritas||Nov-20|
|GSL Keta||Bureau Veritas||Mar-23|
|GSL Julie||Bureau Veritas||Nov-22|
|Marie Delmas||Bureau Veritas||Jan-22|
|(1)||Expected month of drydocking assumes that the vessel qualifies for in-water inspections at the intermediate survey.|
|(2)||Previously named Verdi.|
|(3)||Previously named GSL Manet.|
The table does not take account of discretionary drydockings to effect vessel upgrades, or in response to proposed or actual regulatory changes such as for ballast water treatment.
We operate in markets that are highly competitive. We expect to compete for vessel purchases and charters based upon price, customer relationships, operating expertise, professional reputation and size, age and condition of the vessel. We also expect to compete with many other companies, both other owners and operators including CMA CGM and its subsidiaries, to, among other things, purchase newbuildings and secondhand vessels to grow our fleet.
We expect substantial competition in obtaining new containership charters from a number of experienced and substantial companies. Many of these competitors may have greater financial resources than us, may operate larger fleets, may have been established for longer and may be able to offer better charter rates. Due to the recent industry downturn, there have been an increased number of vessels available for charter, including many from owners with strong reputations and experience. Excess supply of vessels in the container shipping market results in a more active short-term charter market and greater price competition for charters. As a result of these factors, we may be unable to purchase additional containerships, expand our relationships with existing customers or obtain new charterers on a profitable basis, if at all, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Permits and Authorizations
We are required by various governmental and other agencies to obtain certain permits, licenses and certificates with respect to our vessels. The kinds of permits, licenses and certificates required depend upon several factors, including the commodities transported, the waters in which the vessel operates, the nationality of the vessel’s crew and the age of a vessel. Not all of the permits, licenses and certificates currently required to operate the vessels globally have been obtained by us or our ship managers. For example, GSL Keta, GSL Julie, Kumasi and Marie Delmas have not been certified to comply with all U.S., Canadian and Panama Canal regulations, as our charterers do not intend to operate them in these waters.
Environmental and Other Regulations
Government regulation significantly affects our business and the operation of our vessels. We are subject to international conventions and codes, and national, state, and local laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which our vessels operate or are registered, including, among others, those governing the generation, management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, the cleanup of oil spills and other contamination, air emissions and water discharges. Because such laws and regulations frequently change, we cannot predict the ultimate cost of complying with these requirements or the impact of these requirements on the resale or current market value or useful lives of our vessels.
A variety of government, quasi-government and private entities require us to obtain permits, licenses or certificates for the operation of our vessels. Failure to maintain necessary permits or approvals could require us to incur substantial costs or temporarily suspend the operation of one or more of our vessels in one or more ports.
Increasing environmental concerns have created a demand for vessels that conform to the strictest 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 and with flag state administrations.
The following is an overview of certain material governmental regulations that affect our business and the operation of our vessels.
International Maritime Organization
The IMO is the United Nations’ agency for maritime safety. The IMO has adopted international conventions that impose liability for pollution in international waters and a signatory’s territorial waters. For example, the IMO’s International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, or MARPOL, imposes environmental standards on the shipping industry relating to, among other things, pollution prevention and procedures, technical standards, oil spills management, transportation of marine pollutants and air emissions. Annex VI of MARPOL, which regulates air pollution from vessels, sets limits on sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions from vessel exhausts and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances, such as chlorofluorocarbons. We believe all of our vessels currently are Annex VI compliant. Annex VI also includes a global cap on the sulfur content of fuel oil with a lower cap (currently 0.1%) on the sulfur content applicable inside Emission Control Areas, or ECAs. Existing ECAs include the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, including the English Channel, the North American area and the U.S. Caribbean Sea area. Other areas in China are subject to local regulations that impose stricter emission controls. Additional geographical areas may be designated as ECAs in the future.
Annex VI calls for incremental reductions in sulfur in fuel between 2012 and 2020 (or 2015 in the case of ECAs), and the use of advanced technology engines designed to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide, with a “Tier II” emission limit applicable to engines installed on or after January 1, 2011, and a more stringent “Tier III” emission limit applicable to engines installed on or after 2016 operating in the North American and U.S. Caribbean Sea nitrogen oxide ECAs and for engines installed on or after 2021 for vessels operating in the Baltic and North Sea. For future nitrogen oxide ECA designations, Tier III standards will apply to engines installed on ships constructed on or after the date of ECA designation, or a later date as determined by the country applying for the ECA designation. Additional ECAs could be established in the future. The IMO has undertaken a study for a new 0.1% m/m low sulfur ECA in the Mediterranean.
In 2016, the IMO confirmed its decision to implement a global sulfur cap of 0.5% m/m in 2020. Vessels should currently either be fitted with exhaust gas scrubbers, allowing the vessel to continue to use less expensive, high sulfur content fuel or should have undertaken fuel system modification and tank cleaning, allowing the use of more expensive, low sulfur fuel. From March 1, 2020, vessels not fitted with exhaust gas scrubbers cannot have high sulfur content fuel on board.
Our existing time charters call for our customers to supply fuel that complies with Annex VI. It may be that charterers of certain of our vessels will seek to comply with Annex VI by agreeing with us to have exhaust gas cleaning systems installed.
These amendments or other changes could require modifications to our vessels to achieve compliance, and the cost of compliance may be significant to our operations.
The IMO has also adopted technical and operational measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vessels. These include the “Energy Efficiency Design Index,” which is mandatory for newbuilding vessels, and the “Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan,” which is mandatory for all vessels. The IMO now requires ships of 5,000 gross tonnage, or grt, or more to record and report their fuel consumption to their flag state at the end of each calendar year. The IMO plans to use this data to adopt an initial greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategy.
The IMO’s International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, or the Bunker Convention, imposes, subject to limited exceptions, strict liability on vessel owners for pollution damage in jurisdictional waters of ratifying states, which does not include the United States, caused by discharges of “bunker oil.” The Bunker Convention also requires owners of registered vessels over a certain size to maintain insurance for pollution damage in an amount generally equal to the limits of liability under the applicable national or international limitation regime. With respect to non-ratifying states, liability for spills or releases of oil carried as fuel in a ship’s bunkers typically is determined by the national or other domestic laws in the jurisdiction where the events or damages occur on a fault or strict-liability basis. We believe our vessels comply with the Bunker Convention.
The IMO’s International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, or the BWM Convention, requires the installation of ballast water treatment systems on certain newbuilding vessels for which the keel is laid after September 8, 2017 and for existing vessels at the renewal of their International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate after September 8, 2019. 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. Costs of compliance with these regulations may be substantial. The BWM Convention also requires ships to carry an approved ballast water management plan, record books and statement of compliance. The BWM Convention also requires ships to carry an approved ballast water management plan, record books and statement of compliance. We will be required to incur significant costs to install these ballast water treatment systems on all our vessels before the applicable due dates.
The IMO’s International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships, or the Anti-fouling Convention,” prohibits the use of organotin compound coatings to prevent the attachment of mollusks and other sea life to the hulls of vessels and requires vessels over 400 grt engaged in international voyages 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, or 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.
Amendments to MARPOL Annex V (regulation for the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships) adopted at MEPC 70 entered into force on March 1, 2018. The changes include criteria for determining whether cargo residues are harmful to the marine environment, and a new Garbage Record Book format with a new garbage category for e-waste. As all our existing containerships are compliant with MARPOL Annex V requirements, the amendments could cause us to incur additional operational costs for the handling of garbage produced on our fleet.
The IMO also regulates vessel safety. The International Safety Management Code, or the ISM Code, provides an international standard for the safe management and operation of ships and for pollution prevention. The ISM Code requires our vessels to develop and maintain an extensive “Safety Management System” that includes the adoption of a safety and environmental protection policy and implementation procedures. A Safety Management Certificate is issued under the provisions of the SOLAS Convention to each vessel with a Safety Management System verified to be in compliance with the ISM Code. Failure to comply with the ISM Code may subject a 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. All of the vessels in our fleet are ISM Code-certified. Furthermore, all seafarers are required to meet the standards of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, or STCW, and be in possession of a valid STCW certificate. Flag states that have ratified the SOLAS Convention and STCW generally employ the classification societies to undertake surveys to confirm compliance.
Furthermore, recent action by the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee and United States 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. 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.
Increasingly, various regions are adopting additional, unilateral requirements on the operation of vessels in their territorial waters. These regulations, such as those described below, apply to our vessels when they operate in the relevant regions’ waters and can add to operational and maintenance costs, as well as increase the potential liability that applies to violations of the applicable requirements.
The United States Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and CERCLA
The United States Oil Pollution Act of 1990, (“OPA”), establishes an extensive regulatory and liability regime for the protection and cleanup of the environment from oil spills. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, (“CERCLA”), governs spills or releases of hazardous substances other than petroleum or petroleum products. Under OPA and CERCLA, vessel owners, operators and bareboat charterers 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., are jointly and, subject to limited exceptions, strictly liable for all containment and clean-up costs and other damages arising from discharges or threatened discharges of oil or hazardous substances, as applicable, from their vessels. OPA and CERCLA define these damages broadly to include certain direct and indirect damages and losses, including but not limited to assessment of damages, remediation, damages to natural resources such as fish and wildlife habitat, and agency oversight costs. Although our vessels do not carry oil as cargo, they do carry oil as bunkers, or fuel.
Under OPA and CERCLA, the liability of responsible parties is limited to a specified amount, which is periodically updated. Under both OPA and CERCLA, liability is unlimited if the incident is caused by gross negligence, willful misconduct or a violation of certain regulations. Similarly, liability limits do not apply (i) under OPA if the responsible party fails or refuses to report the incident where the responsible party knows or has reason to know of the incident or reasonably cooperate and assist as requested in connection with oil removal activities, or (ii) under CERCLA 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.
We 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 harm our business, financial condition and results of operation. Vessel owners and operators must establish and maintain with the U.S. Coast Guard evidence of financial responsibility sufficient to meet their potential aggregate liabilities under OPA and CERCLA. Evidence of financial responsibility may be demonstrated by showing proof of insurance, surety bonds, self-insurance or guarantees. We have obtained the necessary U.S. Coast Guard financial assurance certificates, or COFRs, for each of our vessels currently in service and trading to the United States. Owners or operators of certain vessels operating in U.S. waters also must prepare and submit to the U.S. Coast Guard a response plan for each vessel, which plan, among other things, must address a “worst case” scenario environmental discharge and describe crew training and drills to address any discharge. Each of our vessels has the necessary response plans in place.
OPA and CERCLA do not prohibit individual states from imposing their own liability regimes with regard to oil pollution or hazardous substance incidents occurring within their boundaries, and some states have enacted legislation providing for unlimited liability for spills. In some cases, states that have enacted such 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. Nevertheless, future changes to OPA, CERCLA and other United States environmental regulations could adversely affect our operations.
Clean Water Act
The Clean Water Act, or CWA, establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the “waters of the United States” and regulating quality standards for surface waters. The CWA authorizes civil and criminal penalties for discharging pollutants without a permit, failure to meet any requirement of a permit, and also allows for citizen suits against violators. The CWA imposes strict liability in the form of penalties for any unauthorized discharges, and 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,” thereby expanding federal authority under the CWA, but following litigation, the EPA and Department of the Army proposed a limited definition of “waters of the United States” in December 2018. 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 defining “waters of the United States” and recodified the regulatory text that existing prior to 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 still currently unknown. The CWA does not prohibit individual states from imposing more stringent conditions, which many states have done.
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 will replace the 2013 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, or NISA, such as mid-ocean 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. Under NISA, newbuilding vessels constructed after December 1, 2013 are required to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved ballast water treatment system installed, and existing vessels, are required to have a ballast water treatment system installed on the first scheduled dry-dock after January 1, 2016
VIDA establishes a new framework for the regulation of vessel incidental discharges under the 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, or NOI, or retention of a Permit Authorization and Record of Inspection 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.
In addition, the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, or APPS, implements various provisions of MARPOL and applies to larger foreign-flag ships when operating in U.S. waters. The regulatory mechanisms established in APPS to implement MARPOL are separate and distinct from the CWA and other federal environmental laws. Civil and criminal penalties may be assessed under APPS for non-compliance.
Additional Ballast Water Regulations
The U.S. Coast Guard regulations also require vessels to maintain a vessel-specific ballast water management plan that addresses training and safety procedures, fouling maintenance and sediment removal procedures. Individual U.S. states have also enacted laws to address invasive species through ballast water and hull cleaning management and permitting requirements.
Clean Air Act
The Clean Air Act, or the CAA, and its implementing regulations subject our vessels to vapor control and recovery requirements when cleaning fuel tanks and conducting other operations in regulated port areas and to air emissions standards for our engines while operating in U.S. waters. The EPA has adopted standards that apply to certain engines installed on U.S. vessels and to marine diesel fuels produced and distributed in the United States. These standards are consistent with Annex VI of MARPOL and establish significant reductions for vessel emissions of particulate matter, sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides.
The CAA also requires states to draft State Implementation Plans, or SIPs, designed to attain national health-based air quality standards in primarily major metropolitan and industrial areas. Several SIPs regulate emissions from degassing operations by requiring the installation of vapor control equipment on vessels. California has enacted regulations which apply to ocean-going vessels’ engines when operating within 24 miles of the California coast and require operators to use low sulfur fuels. California also approved regulations to reduce emissions from diesel auxiliary engines on certain ocean-going vessels while in California ports, including container ship fleets that make 25 or more annual visits to California ports. These federal and state requirements may increase our capital expenditures and operating costs while in applicable ports. As with other U.S. environmental laws, failure to comply with the Clean Air Act may subject us to enforcement action, including payment of civil or criminal penalties and citizen suits.
European Union Requirements
In waters of the EU, our vessels are subject to regulation by EU-level legislation, including directives implemented by the various member states through laws and regulations of these requirements. These laws and regulations prescribe measures, among others, to prevent pollution, protect the environment and support maritime safety. For instance, the EU has adopted directives that require member states to refuse access to their ports to certain sub-standard vessels, according to various factors, such as the vessel’s condition, flag, and number of previous detentions (Directive 2009/16/EC on Port State Control as amended and supplemented from time to time). Member states must, among other things, inspect minimum percentages of vessels using their ports annually (based on an inspection “share” of the relevant member state of the total number of inspections to be carried out within the EU and the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control region), inspect all vessels which are due for a mandatory inspection (based, among other things, on their type, age, risk profile and the time of their last inspection) and carry out more frequent inspections of vessels with a high risk profile. If deficiencies are found that are clearly hazardous to safety, health or the environment, the state is required to detain the vessel or stop loading or unloading until the deficiencies are addressed. Member states are also required to implement their own separate systems of proportionate penalties for breaches of these standards.
Our vessels are also subject to inspection by appropriate classification societies. Classification societies typically establish and maintain standards for the construction and classification of vessels, supervise that construction in accordance with such standards, and carry out regular surveys of ships in service to ensure compliance with such standards. The EU has adopted legislation (Regulation (EC) No 391/2009 and Directive 2009/15/EC, as amended and supplemented from time to time) that provides member states with greater authority and control over classification societies, including the ability to seek to suspend or revoke the authority of classification societies that are negligent in their duties. The EU requires member states to monitor these organizations’ compliance with EU inspection requirements and to suspend any organization whose safety and pollution prevention performance becomes unsatisfactory.
The EU’s directive on the sulfur content of fuels (Directive (EU) 2016/802, which consolidates Directive 1999/32/EC and its various amendments) restricts the maximum sulfur content of marine fuels used in vessels operating in EU member states’ territorial seas, exclusive economic zones and pollution control zones. The directive provides for more stringent rules on maximum sulfur content of marine fuels applicable in specific Sulfur Emission Control Areas, or SECAs, such as the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, including the English Channel. Further sea areas may be designated as SECAs in the future by the IMO in accordance with Annex VI of MARPOL. Under this directive, we may be required to make expenditures to comply with the sulfur fuel content limits in the marine fuel our vessels use in order to avoid delays or other obstructions to their operations, as well as any enforcement measures which may be imposed by the relevant member states for non-compliance with the provisions of the directive. We also may need to make other expenditures (such as expenditures related to washing or filtering exhaust gases) to comply with relevant sulfur oxide emissions levels. The directive has been amended to bring the above requirements in line with Annex VI of MARPOL. It also makes certain of these requirements more stringent. These and other related requirements may require additional capital expenditures and increase our operating costs.
Through Directive 2005/35/EC (as amended by Directive 2009/123/EC and as further amended and supplemented from time to time), the EU requires member states to cooperate to detect pollution discharges and impose criminal sanctions for certain pollution discharges committed intentionally, recklessly or by serious negligence and to initiate proceedings against ships at their next port of call following the discharge. Penalties may include fines and civil and criminal penalties. Directive 2000/59/EC (as amended and supplemented from time to time) requires all ships (except for warships, naval auxiliary or other state-owned or state-operated ships on non-commercial service), irrespective of flag, calling at, or operating within, ports of member states to deliver all ship-generated waste and cargo residues to port reception facilities. Under the directive, a fee is payable by the ships for the use of the port reception facilities, including the treatment and disposal of the waste. The ships may be subject to an inspection for verification of their compliance with the requirements of the directive and penalties may be imposed for their breach.
The EU also authorizes member states to adopt the IMO’s Bunker Convention, discussed above, that imposes strict liability on shipowners for pollution damage caused by spills of oil carried as fuel in vessels’ bunkers and requires vessels of a certain size to maintain financial security to cover any liability for such damage. Most EU member states have ratified the Bunker Convention.
The EU has adopted a regulation (EU Ship Recycling Regulation (1257/2013)) which sets forth rules relating to vessel recycling and management of hazardous materials on vessels. The regulation contains requirements for the recycling of vessels at approved recycling facilities that must meet certain requirements, so as to minimize the adverse effects of recycling on human health and the environment. The regulation also contains rules for the control and proper management of hazardous materials on vessels and prohibits or restricts the installation or use of certain hazardous materials on vessels. The regulation seeks to facilitate the ratification of the IMO’s Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009. The regulation applies to vessels flying the flag of a member state and certain of its provisions apply to vessels flying the flag of a third country calling at a port or anchorage of a member state. For example, when calling at a port or anchorage of a member state, a vessel flying the flag of a third country will be required, among other things, to have on board an inventory of hazardous materials which complies with the requirements of the new regulation and the vessel must be able to submit to the relevant authorities of that member state a copy of a statement of compliance issued by the relevant authorities of the country of the vessel’s flag verifying the inventory. The regulation entered into force on December 30, 2013, although certain of its provisions are to apply at different stages, with certain of them applicable from December 31, 2020. Pursuant to this regulation, the EU Commission adopted the first version of a European List of approved ship recycling facilities meeting the requirements of the regulation, as well as four further implementing decisions dealing with certification and other administrative requirements set out in the regulation.
The EU is considering other proposals to further regulate vessel operations. The EU has adopted an Integrated Maritime Policy for the purposes of achieving a more coherent approach to maritime issues through coordination between different maritime sectors and integration of maritime policies. The Integrated Maritime Policy has sought to promote the sustainable development of the European maritime economy and to protect the marine environment through cross-sector and cross-border cooperation of maritime participants. The EU Commission’s proposals included, among other items, the development of environmentally sound end-of-life ship dismantling requirements (as described above in respect of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation (1257/2013)), promotion of the use of shore-side electricity by ships at berth in EU ports to reduce air emissions, and consideration of options for EU legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from maritime transport. The European Maritime Safety Agency has been established to provide technical support to the EU Commission and member states in respect of EU legislation pertaining to maritime safety, pollution and security. The EU, any individual country or other competent authority may adopt additional legislation or regulations applicable to us and our operations.
Other Greenhouse Gas Legislation
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 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.
The IMO, EU, the United States and other individual countries, states and provinces are evaluating various measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, which may include some combination of market-based instruments, a carbon tax or other mandatory reduction measures. The EU adopted Regulation (EU) 2015/757 concerning the monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon dioxide emissions from vessels, or the MRV Regulation, which entered into force in July 2015 (as amended by Regulation (EU) 2016/2071). The MRV Regulation applies to all vessels over 5,000 gross tonnage (except for a few types, including, but not limited to, warships and fish-catching or fish-processing vessels), irrespective of flag, in respect of carbon dioxide emissions released during voyages within the EU as well as EU incoming and outgoing voyages. The first reporting period commenced on January 1, 2018. The monitoring, reporting and verification system adopted by the MRV Regulation may be the precursor to a market-based mechanism to be adopted in the future. The EU is currently considering a proposal for the inclusion of shipping in the EU Emissions Trading System.
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. 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.
We may be subject to environmental and other regulations that have been or may become adopted in other regions of the world that may impose obligations on our vessels and may increase our costs to own and operate them. Compliance with these requirements may require significant expenditures on our part and may materially increase our operating costs.
Of particular importance, due to the trade intensity in these areas, are four ECAs created in Hong Kong and in China (Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta and Bohai Sea), aiming to reduce the levels of ship-generated air pollution and focus on the sulfur content of fuels. As of January 1, 2017, vessels at berth in a core port within an emission control area are required to use fuel with a maximum sulfur content of 0.5% m/m—except one hour after arrival and one hour before departure. Since January 1, 2018, all ports within Chinese emission control areas have implemented this standard. As of January 1, 2019, vessels must switch to fuel with a sulfur content not exceeding 0.5% m/m prior to entering China’s territorial sea, in defined areas. From January 1, 2020, vessels entering Inland ECAs (Yangtze River and Xi Jiang River) must use fuel with a sulfur content not exceeding 0.10% while operating within the Inland ECA. Looking further ahead, a sulfur cap of 0.1% will apply to seagoing vessels entering Hainan Waters within the coastal ECA from January 1, 2022. Vessels capable of receiving shore power must use shore power if they berth for more than three hours in ports in the coastal ECA that have shore power capabilities (or more than two hours in ports with such capabilities in the Inland ECAs). Furthermore, ships of 400 gross tonnage or over, or ships powered by main propulsion machinery greater than 750 kW of propulsion power, calling at a port in China should report energy consumption data of their last voyage to China MSA before leaving port (China Regulation on Data Collection for Energy Consumption of Ships). Hong Kong’s current Fuel at Berth Regulation requiring ships to burn fuel with a sulfur content not exceeding 0.5% m/m while at berth are expected to be replaced by a regulation extending the standard to ships operating in Hong Kong waters. Ships not fitted with scrubbers will be required to burn fuel with a sulfur content not exceeding 0.5% m/m within Hong Kong waters, irrespective of whether they are sailing or at berth. In Taiwan, ships not fitted with exhaust gas scrubbers must burn fuel with a sulfur content not exceeding 0.5% m/m when entering its international commercial port areas.
In connection with the introduction of the ban of high sulfur fuel for vessels not fitted with exhaust gas scrubbers, a number of countries are introducing rules as to the type of exhaust gas scrubber that may be acceptable to be operated on vessels, in effect prohibiting the operation in their waters of hybrid or open loop type exhaust gas scrubbers and forcing vessels to use more expensive closed loop systems or to burn low sulfur fuel when sailing in their waters.
International Labor Organization
The International Labor Organization 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 above 500 gross tons in international trade. We believe that all our vessels are in substantial compliance with and are certified to meet MLC 2006.
Vessel Security Regulations
Since September 2001, there have been a variety of initiatives intended to enhance vessel security. In November 2002, the U.S Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, or the MTSA, came into effect. To implement certain portions of the MTSA, the U.S. Coast Guard has 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. Similarly, amendments to the SOLAS Convention created a new chapter of the convention dealing specifically with maritime security, which came into effect in July 2004. To trade internationally, a vessel must attain an International Ship Security Certificate, or 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 new chapter imposes various detailed security obligations on vessels and port authorities, most of which are contained in the International Ship and Port Facilities Security Code, or ISPS Code. Among the various requirements are:
|·||on-board installation of automatic information systems, to enhance vessel-to-vessel and vessel-to-shore communications;|
|·||on-board installation of ship security alert systems;|
|·||the development of vessel security plans; and|
|·||compliance with flag state security certification requirements.|
The United States Coast Guard regulations, intended to align with international maritime security standards, exempt non-U.S. vessels from MTSA vessel security measures if such vessels have on board a valid International Ship Security Certificate, that attests to the vessel’s compliance with the SOLAS Convention security requirements and the ISPS Code. Our existing vessels have implemented the various security measures addressed by the MTSA, the SOLAS Convention and the ISPS Code.
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.
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.
Risk of Loss and Liability Insurance
The operation of any cargo vessel includes risks such as mechanical failure, physical damage, collision, property loss, cargo loss or damage and business interruption due to political circumstances in foreign countries, piracy incidents, 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. OPA, which imposes virtually unlimited liability upon shipowners, operators and bareboat charterers of any vessel trading in the exclusive economic zone of the United States for certain oil pollution accidents in the United States, has made liability insurance more expensive for shipowners and operators trading in the United States market. We carry insurance coverage as customary in the shipping industry. However, not all risks can be insured, specific claims may be rejected, and we might not be always able to obtain adequate insurance coverage at reasonable rates.
Hull & Machinery, Loss of Hire and War Risks Insurance
We maintain marine hull and machinery, increased value and war risks insurances, 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, which we expect to assess at least annually, with certain deductibles per vessel per incident. We also maintain freight value coverage for each of our vessels under which in the event of total loss or constructive total loss of a vessel, we will be entitled to recover amounts otherwise not recoverable under our basic hull and machinery or war policies. As required by the terms of the Citi Credit Facility and the indenture governing the 2022 Notes, we have assigned certain of our insurance policies to our lenders under the Citi Credit Facility and the holders of the 2022 Notes and will be subject to restrictions on our use of any proceeds therefrom.
We do not have loss-of-hire insurance covering the loss of revenue during extended off-hire periods. We evaluate obtaining such coverage on an ongoing basis, taking into account insurance market conditions and the employment of our vessels.
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 and crew liabilities in connection with our shipping activities. Coverage includes third-party liability, crew liability and other related expenses resulting from the abandonment, injury or death of crew, 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 P&I associations. Subject to the limit for pollution discussed below, our coverage is virtually unlimited, but subject to the rules of the particular protection and indemnity insurer.
Our current protection and indemnity insurance coverage for pollution is up to $1.0 billion per vessel per incident. The 13 P&I associations that comprise the International Group insure approximately 90% of the world’s commercial blue-water 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 US $10 million up to, currently, approximately US$ 7.0 billion. As a member of a P&I Association, which is a member of the International Group, we are subject to calls payable to the associations based on our claim records as well as the claim records of all other members of the individual associations and members of the shipping pool of P&I Associations comprising the International Group.
C. Organizational Structure
Our holding company, Global Ship Lease, Inc., is a Marshall Islands corporation. Each of our vessels is owned by a separate wholly-owned subsidiary. 23 vessels are owned by companies incorporated in Marshall Islands; nine vessels are owned by companies incorporated in Cyprus, nine vessels are owned by companies incorporated in Liberia and four by companies incorporated in Hong Kong. In addition, GSLS, a company incorporated in England and Wales and which is directly wholly owned by the holding company, and GSL Enterprises Ltd., a Marshall Islands corporation which has established a branch office in Greece pursuant to the provisions of art. 25 of Law 27/1975 (formerly law 89/1967), provide certain administrative services to the group.
A list of our subsidiaries and their respective countries of incorporation is provided as Exhibit 8.1 to this Annual Report on Form 20-F.
D. Property, Plants and Equipment
Our only material properties are the vessels in our fleet, which are described in “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview.” The vessels are affected by environmental and other regulations. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Environmental and Other Regulations.” Certain of our vessels serve as security under our debt agreements. See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review—B. Liquidity and Financial Resources—Indebtedness.” We do not own any real property.
|Item 4A.||Unresolved Staff Comments|
|Item 5.||Operating and Financial Review and Prospects|
A. Operating Results
Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes and the financial and other information included elsewhere in this Annual Report. The term consolidated financial statements refers to the consolidated financial statements of Global Ship Lease, Inc. and its subsidiaries. This discussion contains forward-looking statements based on assumptions about our future business. Our actual results will likely differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. See “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” at the beginning of this Annual Report.
We are a containership owner, incorporated in the Marshall Islands. We commenced operations in December 2007 with a business of owning and chartering out containerships under fixed rate charters to container liner companies.
As of December 31, 2019, we owned 43 vessels and had contracted to purchase two further vessels. Including these two vessels, our fleet has a total capacity of 248,968 TEU with an average age, weighted by TEU capacity, of 12.8 years.
We have entered into ship management agreements with a third-party ship manager for the day-to-day technical management of our current fleet of vessels. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Management of Our Fleet” for a more detailed description of our ship management agreements.
Our financial results are largely driven by the following factors:
|·||the continued performance of the charter agreements;|
|·||the number of vessels in our fleet and their charter rates;|
|·||the terms under which we recharter our vessels once the existing time charters have expired;|
|·||the number of days that our vessels are utilized and not subject to drydocking, special surveys or otherwise are off-hire;|
|·||our ability to control our costs, including ship operating costs, ship management fees, insurance costs, drydock costs, general, administrative and other expenses and interest and financing costs. Ship operating costs may vary from month to month depending on a number of factors, including the timing of purchases of spares and stores and of crew changes;|
|·||impairment of our vessels and other non-current assets; and|
|·||access to, and the pricing and other terms of, our financing arrangements.|
As at December 31, 2019 and as adjusted to include the two ships delivered in 2020 and new charters agreed through March 31, 2020, the average remaining term of our charters at December 31, 2019, to the mid-point of redelivery, including options under our control, was 2.5 years on a TEU-weighted basis. The time charters for nine of our 45 containerships either have expired or could expire before the end of the first half of 2020, and a further 12 vessels have charters that could expire during the second half of 2020. The charter rate that we will be able to achieve on renewal will be affected by market conditions at that time. As discussed further below, operational matters such as off-hire days for planned maintenance or for unexpected accidents and incidents also affect the actual amount of revenues we receive.
As of December 31, 2019, CMA CGM is our main customer and charter payments from them are a major source of operating cash flow. At any given time in the future, the cash resources of CMA CGM may be diminished or exhausted, and we cannot assure you that CMA CGM will be able to make charter payments to us.
The container shipping industry suffered a cyclical downturn as a result of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 - 2009 and many container shipping companies reported substantial losses. Financial performance of container shipping companies has subsequently improved; however, the industry has remained under pressure due to oversupply of container ship capacity. Nevertheless, charter payments have been received on a timely basis in 2019 and, as of December 31, 2019, charterhire was up-to-date. If our charterers are unable to make charter payments to us, our results of operations and financial condition will be materially adversely affected. If our existing charters with our charterers were terminated and we were required to recharter at lower rates or if we were unable to find new charters due to market conditions, our results of operations and financial condition would be materially adversely affected.
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
The consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP, which requires us to make estimates in the application of certain accounting policies based on our best assumptions, judgments and opinions. We base these estimates on the information available to us at the time and on various other assumptions we believe are reasonable under the circumstances. The following is a discussion of our principal accounting policies, some of which involve a high degree of judgment, and the methods of their application.
For a further description of our material accounting policies, please see note 3 to the consolidated financial statements included at “Item 18. Financial Statements.”
Our revenue is generated from long-term time charters for each vessel. The charters are regarded as operating leases and provide for a per vessel fixed daily charter rate. Revenue is recorded on a straight-line basis. Assuming our vessels are not off-hire, our charter revenues are fixed for the period of the current charters and, accordingly, little judgment is required to be applied to the amount of revenue recognition. Operating revenue is stated net of address commissions, which represent a discount provided directly to the charterer based on a fixed percentage of the agreed upon charter rate.
Vessels in Operation
Vessels are generally recorded at their historical cost, which consists of the acquisition price and any material expenses incurred upon acquisition. Vessels acquired in a corporate transaction accounted for as an asset acquisition are stated at the acquisition price, which consists of consideration paid, plus transaction costs less any negative goodwill, if applicable. Vessels acquired in a corporate transaction accounted for as a business combination are recorded at fair value. Vessels acquired as part of the Marathon Merger in 2008 were accounted for under ASC 805, which required that the vessels be recorded at fair value, less the negative goodwill arising as a result of the accounting for the merger.
Subsequent expenditures for major improvements and upgrades are capitalized, provided they appreciably extend the life, increase the earnings capacity or improve the efficiency or safety of the vessels.
Borrowing costs incurred during the construction of vessels or as part of the prefinancing of the acquisition of vessels are capitalized. There was no capitalized interest for the years ended December 31, 2019 or 2018. Other borrowing costs are expensed as incurred.
Vessels are stated less accumulated depreciation and impairment, if applicable. Vessels are depreciated to their estimated residual value using the straight-line method over their estimated useful lives which are reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure they reflect current technology, service potential and vessel structure. The useful lives are estimated to be 30 years from original delivery by the shipyard.
For any vessel group which is impaired, the impairment charge is recorded against the cost of the vessel and the accumulated depreciation as of the date of impairment is removed from the accounts.
The cost and related accumulated depreciation of assets retired or sold are removed from the accounts at the time of sale or retirement and any gain or loss is included in the Consolidated Statements of Operations.
The Poseidon Transaction has been accounted for under ASU 2017-01 as an asset acquisition. The vessels acquired on November 15, 2018 were recorded at their fair value, based on valuations obtained from third party independent ship brokers, less negative goodwill arising as a result of the accounting for the overall Poseidon Transaction, allocated pro-rata.
Our vessels are drydocked approximately every five years for their special survey and for major repairs and maintenance that cannot be performed while the vessels are operating. Costs associated with the drydocks are capitalized as a component of the cost of the relevant vessel as they occur and are amortized on a straight line basis over the period to the next anticipated drydock, which are typically at five year intervals. Other expenditures relating to maintenance and repairs are expensed when incurred.
Prior to the completion of the Poseidon Transaction on November 15, 2018, we allocated an element of the purchase price of a vessel to a drydocking component which was amortized on a straight-line basis to the next anticipated drydocking date.
Costs capitalized as part of the drydock include costs directly associated with the special survey of the ship, its hull and its machinery and for the defouling and repainting of the hull. Any cost of repair to hull or machinery that extends useful life is capitalized. Other repair costs are expensed. Five drydockings were completed in 2019 for regulatory reasons and five vessel upgrades were completed, the total cost of which, excluding the effect of the associated 537 days of offhire, was $8.7 million. The duration of drydockings was adversely affected in 2019 by congestion at Chinese and other shipyards as a result of scrubber retrofitting. Two drydockings were completed in 2018 for regulatory reasons the total cost of which, excluding the effect of the associated 34 days of offhire, was $2.5 million. Four drydockings were completed in 2017, the total cost of which, excluding the effect of the associated 62 days of offhire, was $4.0 million. Six drydockings were completed in 2016 for regulatory reasons, the total cost of which, excluding the effect of the associated 100 days of offhire, was $7.9 million. One such drydocking was completed in 2015, the total cost of which, excluding the effect of nine days offhire, was $1.5 million.
Impairment of Long-lived Assets
Tangible fixed assets, such as vessels, are reviewed individually for impairment when events or changes in circumstances indicate that their carrying amounts may not be recoverable. Undiscounted projected operating cash flows are determined for each vessel group, which comprises of the vessel, the unamortized portion of deferred drydocking related to the vessel and the related carrying value of the intangible asset or liability (if any) with respect to the time charter attached to the vessel at its purchase, if applicable (together the “vessel group”) and compared to the carrying value of the vessel group (step one). Within the shipping industry, vessels can be purchased with a charter attached. The value of the charter may be favorable or unfavorable when comparing the contracted charter rate to then current market rates. An impairment charge is recognized when the sum of the expected undiscounted future cash flows from the vessel group over its estimated remaining useful life is less than its carrying amount (step one) and is recorded equal to the amount by which the vessel group’s carrying amount exceeds its fair value, including any applicable charter. Fair value is determined with the assistance from valuations obtained from third party independent ship brokers (step two).
The assumptions used involve a considerable degree of estimation. Actual conditions may differ significantly from the assumptions and thus actual cash flows may be significantly different to those estimated with a material effect on the recoverability of each vessel’s carrying amount. The most significant assumptions made for the determination of expected cash flows are:
|·||charter rates on expiry of existing charters, net of address commissions, which are based on forecast charter rates, where relevant, in the four years from the date of the impairment test and a reversion to the historical mean for each vessel thereafter;|
|·||off-hire days, which are based on actual off-hire statistics for our fleet;|
|·||operating costs, based on current levels escalated over time based on long term trends;|
|·||dry docking frequency, duration and cost;|
|·||the cost of fitting ballast water treatment systems;|
|·||estimated useful life, which is assessed as a total of 30 years from original delivery by the shipyard; and|
Whilst charter rates in the spot market and asset values saw overall improvements through 2019, taking into account the seasonal as well as cyclical nature of the container shipping industry, the recovery was not considered to have been sufficiently sustained not to undertake a review for impairment for vessel groups where the carrying value as at December 31, 2019 might not be recoverable. Consequently, we performed an impairment analysis (step one) to estimate the future undiscounted cash flows for each of their vessel groups. The assessment concluded that no impairment of vessels existed as of December 31, 2019, as the undiscounted projected net operating cash flows exceeded the carrying values. Step two of the impairment analysis was not required.
Whilst charter rates in the spot market and asset values saw overall improvements through 2018, taking into account the seasonal as well as cyclical nature of the container shipping industry, the recovery was not considered to have been sufficiently sustained not to undertake a fleet-wide review for impairment as at December 31, 2018 for the 19 vessels in the GSL Fleet.
As a result, we performed step one of the impairment assessment of each of the vessel groups in the GSL Fleet by comparing the undiscounted projected net operating cash flows for each vessel group to the carrying value of the vessel group.
During the year ended December 31, 2018, our assessment concluded that step two of the impairment analysis was required for three of our vessels groups that were held and used, as the undiscounted projected net operating cash flows did not exceed the carrying value. As a result, an impairment loss of $71.8 million was recorded for three vessels, shown as “Impairment of vessels” in the Consolidated Statements of Operations, being the difference between the fair value of the vessel group (which included the charter attached) and the vessel group’s carrying value.
No impairment test was performed for the vessels comprising the Poseidon Fleet as at December 31, 2018, as no events or circumstances existed indicating that their carrying value may not be recoverable. The carrying value of the vessels at December 31, 2018 was significantly lower than their fair value, mainly as a result of the allocation of negative goodwill arising from the accounting for the Poseidon Transaction.
In September 2018, we agreed with CMA CGM to extend the charter on GSL Julie and entered a new charter with Maersk Line for GSL Ningbo (formerly OOCL Ningbo). These extensions triggered the performance of an impairment test on the two vessels; no impairment was identified.
In January 2018, we agreed with CMA CGM to extend the charter on GSL Tianjin by eight to 12 months (at the charterer’s option) at a fixed rate of $11,900 per day, commencing January 26, 2018. In February 2018, we agreed with OOCL to extend the charter of OOCL Qingdao to between January 1, 2019 and March 15, 2019 (at the charterer’s option) at a fixed rate of $14,000 per day, commencing March 11, 2018. These extensions triggered the performance of an impairment test on the two vessels; no impairment was identified.
The impairment assessment performed for 2017 resulted in an impairment charge of $87.6 million.
Although we currently intend to continue to hold and operate all of our vessels, the following table presents information with respect to the carrying value of our vessels, which are after the impairment charges noted above, and indicates whether their estimated market values, based on charter attached valuations as at December 31, 2019 with the assistance of an independent ship broking firm and totaling $1,303.0 million, are below their carrying values as at December 31, 2019. The carrying value of each of the vessels does not necessarily represent its fair market value or the amount that could be obtained if the vessel were sold. We would not record an impairment for any of the vessels for which the market value based on charter attached valuations is below its carrying value unless and until we either determine to sell the vessel for a loss or determine that the vessel’s carrying amount is not recoverable. We believe that the undiscounted cash flows over the estimated remaining useful lives for those vessels that show estimated market values below their carrying values exceed such vessels’ carrying values as at December 31, 2019, and accordingly have not recorded any further impairment charge. As noted above, for impairment testing we assume that charter rates will revert to historic averages after four years, where relevant. Over the last few years, historic average rates have declined as stronger earlier years are replaced with weaker later years. If time charter rates do not show material and sustained improvement, we expect that our average estimated daily time charter rates used in future impairment analyses will decline, resulting in reduced estimated undiscounted future net cash flows to an amount which is less than the carrying value of certain vessels. In accordance with our accounting policy, if this occurs and we are required to perform any impairment tests, we may be required to recognize a non-cash impairment charge equal to the excess of the impacted vessels’ carrying value over their fair value. Sensitivity analysis as at December 31, 2019 suggests that a reduction of 10.0% in the charter rates assumed after expiry of the existing charter contracts under the current methodology would trigger a theoretical impairment charge of approximately $30.3 million. A reduction of 5.0% in the assumed charter rates would trigger a theoretical impairment charge of approximately $12.6 million.
The amount, if any, and timing of any impairment charges we may recognize in the future will depend upon then current and expected future charter rates and vessel values, which may differ materially from those used in our estimates at December 31, 2019. In addition, vessel values are highly volatile; as such, the estimated market values may not be indicative of the current or future market value of our vessels or prices that we could achieve if we were to sell them, with or without charters attached.
The table below sets out the carrying value of each of the vessels we owned as of December 31, 2018 and 2019:
|Vessel Name||Capacity |
|Carrying Value(1) |
as at December 31,
2018 (in millions of
|Carrying Value as at |
December 31, 2019
(in millions of U.S.
|CMA CGM Thalassa *||11,040||2008||$ 107.7||$ 102.9|
|UASC Al Khor||9,115||2015||69.6||67.5|
|MSC Tianjin *||8,603||2005||46.0||43.8|
|MSC Qingdao *||8,603||2004||44.1||43.0|
|GSL Ningbo *||8,603||2004||45.3||43.5|
|CMA CGM Berlioz *||6,621||2001||33.8||31.8|
|GSL Christel Elisabeth||6,080||2004||—||13.3|
|Orca I *||5,095||2006||11.3||11.2|
|CMA CGM Alcazar *||5,089||2007||35.0||33.4|
|CMA CGM Château d’If *||5,089||2007||32.3||31.0|
|CMA CGM Jamaica *||4,298||2006||30.3||28.7|
|CMA CGM Sambhar *||4,045||2006||29.0||27.5|
|CMA CGM America *||4,045||2006||28.4||27.0|
|GSL Valerie *||2,824||2005||11.2||10.8|
|GSL La Tour (G)*||2,272||2001||10.3||9.7|
|GSL Matisse (G)*||2,262||1999||8.5||9.1|
|CMA CGM Utrillo (G)*||2,262||1999||8.4||7.8|
|GSL Keta (G)||2,207||2003||4.8||4.5|
|GSL Julie (G)||2,207||2002||5.2||4.9|
|Marie Delmas (G)*||2,207||2002||8.0||7.6|
|$ 1,122.3||$ 1,172.2|
|(1)||Carrying value, includes unamortized drydocking costs and excludes favorable and unfavorable leases of $5.0 million, net.|
|(G)||Indicates geared vessel.|
|*||Indicates vessels for which we believe the market value based on charter attached valuations was lower than the carrying value as at December 31, 2019. We believe that the aggregate carrying value of these vessels at December 31, 2019 exceeded their aggregate market value based on charter attached valuations as at December 31, 2019 by approximately $102.0 million.|
We have awarded restricted stock units to certain of our employees. For 2017, 20% of the base compensation paid to our directors was in the form of stock issued under the 2015 Equity Incentive Plan, with the number of stock units issued based on a value of $2.00 per unit. The accounting fair value of restricted stock unit grants is determined by reference to the quoted stock price on the date of grant, as adjusted for estimated dividends forgone until the restricted stock units vest. Compensation expense is recognized based on a graded expense model over the expected vesting period.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
In June 2016, the FASB issued ASU 2016-13, “Financial Instruments—Credit Losses (Topic 326): Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments” (“ASU 2016-13”), which amends the impairment model by requiring entities to use a forward-looking approach based on expected losses to estimate credit losses on certain types of financial instruments, including trade receivables. In December 2018, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2018-19 “Codification improvements to Topic 326”, which clarifies that impairment of receivables arising from operating leases should be accounted for in accordance with Topic 842, Leases. The ASU 2016-13 is effective for public entities for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2019, with early adoption permitted. We are currently evaluating the impact of the new standard on our consolidated financial statements.
We do not believe that any other recently issued, but not yet effective, accounting pronouncements would have a material impact on its interim unaudited consolidated financial statements.
Results of Operations
Year ended December 31, 2019 compared to Year ended December 31, 2018
|Year ended December 31,|
|Operating Revenues||(in millions of U.S. dollars)|
|Time charter revenue||$||261.1||$||157.1|
|Vessel operating expenses||(87.8||)||(49.3||)|
|Time charter and voyage expenses||(9.0||)||(1.6||)|
|Depreciation and amortization||(43.9||)||(35.5||)|
|Impairment of vessels||—||(71.8||)|
|General and administrative expenses||(8.8||)||(9.2||)|
|Total operating expenses||(149.5||)||(167.4||)|
|Non-Operating Income (Expenses)|
|Interest and other finance expenses||(75.0||)||(48.7||)|
|Other income, net||1.5||0.3|
|Earnings allocated to Series B Preferred Shares||(3.1||)||(3.1||)|
|Net Income/(Loss) available to Common Shareholders||$||36.8||$||(60.4||)|
Operating revenues reflect income under fixed rate time charters in effect and were $261.1 million in the year ended December 31, 2019, an increase of $104.0 million, or 66.2%, from operating revenues of $157.1 million for 2018. The increase is mainly due to the full year effect of the acquisition of the Poseidon Fleet, effective November 15, 2018, together with the acquisition of five further containerships in 2019; ownership days in 2019 were 14,326, up 86.7% on 7,675 of 2018. Offsetting the effect of the larger fleet is an increase in offhire and idle time.
There were 806 days offhire through the year, including 537 for five planned vessel upgrades, five completed regulatory drydockings and two in progress as at December 31, 2019. The time taken for drydockings and vessel upgrades has been adversely affected by congestion at Chinese and other shipyards as a result of global scrubber retrofitting. Overall utilization for 2019 was 94.4%. In 2018 overall utilization of 98.7%.
Total Operating Expenses
Total Operating Expenses totaled $149.5 million (or 57.3% of operating revenues). Operating expenses, including $71.8 million charge for impairment, totaled $167.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2018 (or 106.6% of operating revenues). Excluding impairment, operating expenses for 2018 were $95.6 million for 2018 (or 60.9% of operating revenue).
Total Operating expenses can be analyzed as follows:
|·||Vessel operating expenses: Vessel operating expenses, which relate to the operation of the vessels themselves, were $87.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 (or 33.6% of operating revenues) compared to $49.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2018 (or 31.4% of operating revenues). Ownership days in 2019 were 14,326, up 86.7% on 7,675 of 2018. The increase is mainly due to the addition of the Poseidon Fleet from November 15, 2018 and five further ships acquired in 2019. The average cost per ownership day was $6,128, down $292, (or 4.5%), from $6,420 for 2018.|
|·||Time Charter and voyage expenses: Time charter and voyage expenses, which comprise mainly commission paid to ship brokers, the cost of bunker fuel for owner’s account when a ship is offhire or idle and miscellaneous costs associated with a ship’s voyage for the owner’s account, were $9.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 (or 3.4% of operating revenues) compared to $1.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2018 (or 1.0% of operating revenues). The increase was mainly due to the addition of the Poseidon Fleet, all of which incur such commission, compared to our legacy ships, where commission is paid only for those which have completed their initial charters to CMA CGM or OOCL and which have been employed on a new charter obtained with the assistance of a broker.|
|·||Depreciation and Amortization: Depreciation and Amortization was $43.9 million (or 16.8% of operating revenues) for the year ended December 31, 2019, up from $35.5 million (or 22.6% of operating revenues) in 2018. The increase was mainly due to the addition of the Poseidon Fleet, and five further ships during 2019, offset by the effect of lower book values for a number of ships following an impairment charge in December 2018 as well as a change in estimated scrap value per LWT with effect from January 1, 2019 from $250 to $400.|
|·||Impairment of Vessels: Whilst charter rates in the spot market and asset values saw improvements through 2019, taking into account the seasonal as well as cyclical nature of the container shipping industry, the recovery was not considered to have been sufficiently sustained not to undertake a review for impairment as at December 31, 2019. No impairment was identified. The impairment review for 2018 resulted in a non-cash impairment charge of $71.8 million (or 45.7% of operating revenues) being recognized in the quarter ended December 31, 2018.|
|·||General and administrative: General and administrative expenses were $8.8 million (or 3.4% of operating revenues) in the year ended December 31, 2019, and were $9.2 million (or 5.9% of operating revenues) for 2018. The average cost per ownership day was $615 for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to $1,201 per day for the year ended December 31, 2018.|
As a consequence of all preceding items, operating income was $111.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to an operating loss of $10.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2018.
Interest income earned on cash balances for the year ended December 31, 2019 was $1.8 million compared to $1.4 million in 2018 as average cash balances were higher as were interest rates on deposits.
Interest and other finance expenses
Interest and other finance expenses for the year ended December 31, 2019 includes interest on debt assumed as a result of the Poseidon transaction on November 15, 2018 together with interest on new borrowings to partly finance the purchase of additional ships and on the 2024 Notes issued from November 19, 2019.
Interest and other finance expenses for the year ended December 31, 2019, was $75.0 million, up on interest and other finance expenses for the year ended December 31, 2018, of $48.7 million. The increase is mainly due to the full year effect of the debt assumed in the Poseidon transaction together with interest on new borrowings.
Other income, net
Other operating income, net represents miscellaneous revenue mainly from carrying passengers and sundry recharges to charterers under our time charters. In the year ended December 31, 2019, other operating income, net was $1.5 million, up from $0.3 million in 2018.
Income taxes for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018 were not material as our vessel owning subsidiaries were subject to taxation based on tonnage rather than accounting profits.
For the year ended December 31, 2019, net income was $39.9 million, compared a net loss of $57.3 million, after $71.8 million non-cash impairment, for the year ended December 31, 2018.
Earnings Allocated to Series B Preferred Shares
The dividends payable on the $35.0 million Series B Preferred Shares issued on August 20, 2014 and subsequently issued under our Depositary Shares ATM program, are presented as a reduction of net income, as and when declared by the Board of Directors. These dividends totaled $3.1 million for each of the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018.
Net Income/(Loss) Available to Common Shareholders
Net income available to common shareholders for the year ended December 31, 2019 was $36.8 million, compared to a net loss available to common shareholders, after $71.8 million impairment charge, of $60.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2018.
Year ended December 31, 2018 compared to Year ended December 31, 2017
For a discussion of our results for the year ended December 31, 2018 compared to the year ended December 31, 2017, please see “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—A. Operating Results—Results of Operations—Year Ended December 31, 2018 Compared to the Year Ended December 31, 2017” contained in our Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2018, filed with the SEC on March 29, 2019.
B. Liquidity and Capital Resources
Liquidity, working capital and dividends
Our net cash flow from operating activities derives from revenue received under our charter contracts, which varies directly with the number of vessels under charter, days on-hire and charter rates, less operating expenses including crew costs, lubricating oil costs, costs of repairs and maintenance, insurance premiums, general and administrative expenses, interest and other financing costs. In addition, each of our vessels is subject to a drydock approximately every five years. Five drydockings were completed in 2019 for regulatory reasons and five for vessel upgrades, the total cost of which, excluding the effect of the associated 537 days of offhire, was $8.7 million. The duration of drydockings was adversely affected in 2019 by congestion at Chinese and other shipyards as a result of scrubber retrofitting. The average cost of the 23 drydockings completed on vessels in the current fleet between January 2013 and December 2019 was $1.2 million with an average loss of revenue of $0.4 million while the relevant vessel was offhire. This amount does not include any allowance for the installation of ballast water treatment systems or other vessel enhancements. Five regulatory drydockings were completed in 2019, two were completed in 2018, and four in 2017. We have included a schedule of the next anticipated drydocking date for each of our vessels in “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business—Inspection by Classification Societies.” In future years there will be incremental costs for compliance with ballast water management regulations and with emission control regulations should we decide, in conjunction with our relevant charter, to retrofit scrubbers on our vessels. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business—Environmental and Other Regulations.”
The main factor affecting operating cash flow in a period is the timing of the receipt of charterhire, which is due to be paid two weeks or one month in advance and, other than from any asset sales and purchases, are the payments for costs of drydockings, the timing of the payment of interest on the 2022 Notes, which is due to be paid semi-annually on May 15 and November 15 each year, and quarterly on our other debt, including on our 2024 Notes, and amortization of our 2022 Notes and other debt.
We are required to repay $40.0 million in each of the first three years and $35.0 million annually (the “Repayment Requirement”) thereafter, across both the 2022 Notes and the related secured term loan provided by Citibank (the “Citi Credit Facility”) in accordance with the terms of the Indenture relating to the 2022 Notes. The Citi Credit Facility has minimum fixed amortization whereas, as long as amounts are outstanding under that loan, amortization of the 2022 Notes is at the option of the noteholders. In late 2018, pursuant to the Repayment Requirement, around the first anniversary of the issue of the 2022 Notes, we offered to redeem $20.0 million nominal amount of the 2022 Notes at a purchase price of 102%. The offer was fully accepted and $20.0 million nominal amount of the 2022 Notes were redeemed and cancelled. If any portion of the offer had not accepted, it would have been applied to repay the Citi Credit Facility at par. In late 2019, pursuant to the Repayment Requirement, around the second anniversary of the issue of the 2022 Notes, we offered to redeem a further $20.0 million of the 2022 Notes at a purchase price of 102%. Noteholders holding approximately $17.3 million nominal amount of the 2022 Notes accepted the offer and such notes were redeemed and cancelled. The $2.7 million of the offer not accepted was applied to repay the Citi Credit Facility at par. The minimum repayments of the Citi Credit Facility are four instalments of $10.0 million semi-annually commencing April 30, 2018, and two subsequent instalments of $7.4 million; the final maturity date of the loan is no later than October 31, 2020. As of December 31,2019, $322.7 million was outstanding on the 2022 Notes and $12.1 million on the Citi Credit Facility. We are also required to pay a minimum of $47.5 million of amortization in 2020 on the $538.3 million outstanding on other secured term loans and minimum amortization of $47.8 million in 2021.
As indicated in “F. Tabular Disclosure of Contractual Obligations,” below, interest payment obligations for 2020 are $63.7 million, $56.7 million for 2021, $45.2 million for 2022, $16.0 million for 2024 and $12.3 million for 2025. The dividend on the $35.0 million Series B Preferred Shares amounts to $3.1 million each year.
At December 31, 2019, we had $912.8 million of debt outstanding, consisting of $322.7 million under our 2022 Notes which carry interest at a fixed rate of 9.875%, $38.5 million under our Blue Ocean Credit Facility at a fixed rate of interest of 10.0%, $39.8 million under our 2024 Notes which carry interest at the fixed rate of 8.00%, and $511.8 million under our other credit facilities which have floating interest rates at LIBOR plus an average margin of approximately 3.60%. Assuming LIBOR to be 1.0%, quarterly interest on total gross debt at December 31, 2019, without taking into account amortization, would amount to approximately $15.6 million.
Both the 2022 Notes and the Citi Credit Facility require us to have $20.0 million minimum liquidity at each quarter end.
In addition, we intend to declare and make quarterly dividend payments amounting to approximately $0.8 million per quarter on our Series B Preferred Shares on a perpetual basis, based on the amount outstanding as of December 31, 2019. Finally, we may declare and pay dividends on our common shares, subject to any applicable restrictions contained in our current and future agreements governing our indebtedness, including the indenture governing the 2022 Notes and our credit facilities.
Other than costs for drydockings, compliance with environmental regulations and the installation of scrubbers on three vessels, there are no other current material commitments for capital expenditures or other known and reasonably likely material cash requirements other than in respect of our growth strategy.
All our revenues are denominated in U.S. dollars and a portion of our expenses are denominated in currencies other than U.S. dollars. As of December 31, 2019, we had $147.6 million in cash and cash equivalents, including restricted cash. Our cash and cash equivalents are mainly held in U.S. dollars, with relatively small amounts of UK pounds sterling, Euros and HK dollars. We regularly review the amount of cash and cash equivalents held in different jurisdictions to determine the amounts necessary to fund our operations and their growth initiatives and amounts needed to service our indebtedness and related obligations. If these amounts are moved out of their original jurisdictions, we may be subject to taxation.
Due to our charter coverage and nature of our operating and financial costs, our cashflows are predictable and visible, at least in the near to medium term. We have policies in place to control treasury activities within the group. For example, all new funding must be approved by our Board of Directors, and cash deposits can only be made with institutions meeting certain credit metrics and up to predetermined limits by institution.
Our floating rate debt is represented by drawings under a number of secured credit facilities. We have in the past, and may in the future, enter into hedging instruments, including interest rate swap agreements, to hedge our cash flows. We would not enter into derivatives for trading or speculative purposes.
The table below shows our consolidated cash flows for each of the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017:
|Year ended December 31,|
|(in millions of U.S. dollars)|
|Cash Flows from Operating Activities|
|Net Income / (Loss )||$||39.8||$||(57.3||)||$||(74.2||)|
|Adjustments to Reconcile Net Income / (Loss) to Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities|
|Depreciation and amortization||43.9||35.5||38.0|
|Amortization of deferred financing costs||3.1||4.6||7.8|
|Amortization of original issue discount/premium on repurchase of notes||1.1||1.2||11.6|
|Amortization of intangible liability/asset-charter agreements||1.9||(1.3||)||(1.8||)|
|Share based compensation||1.7||0.1||0.3|
|Movement in working capital||1.8||(6.9||)||(2.4||)|
|Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities||93.3||47.7||66.9|
|Cash Flows from Investing Activities|
|Acquisition of vessels||(73.0||)||(11.4||)||—|
|Net proceeds from sale of vessels||—||14.5||—|
|Cash paid for vessel expenditures||(9.5||)||(0.2||)||(0.3||)|
|Advances for vessel acquisitions and other additions||(9.2||)||—||—|
|Cash paid for drydockings||(7.4||)||(2.6||)||(4.6||)|
|Cash acquired from Poseidon Transaction, net of capitalized expenses||(0.8||)||24.0||—|
|Net Cash (Used in)/Provided by Investing Activities||(99.9||)||24.3||(4.9||)|
|Cash Flows from Financing Activities|
|Proceeds from issuance of 2022 Notes, net of costs||—||—||356.4|
|Proceeds from issuance of 2024 Notes, net of costs||39.8||—||—|
|Deferred financing costs paid||(7.9||)||(2.0||)||(12.7||)|
|Repayment of refinanced debt||(262.8||)||—||—|
|Repurchase of notes, including premium(1)||(17.6||)||(20.4||)||(374.8||)|
|Proceeds from drawdown of credit facilities||327.5||8.1||54.8|
|Repayment of credit facilities||(63.5||)||(37.8||)||(63.5||)|
|Proceeds from offering of Class A common shares, net of costs||50.7||—||—|
|Proceeds from offering of Series B preferred shares, net of costs||1.0||—||—|
|Series B preferred shares – dividends paid||(3.1||)||(3.1||)||(3.1||)|
|Net Cash Provided by/(Used in) Financing Activities||64.1||(55.2||)||(42.9||)|
|Net Increase in Cash and Cash Equivalents||57.5||16.8||19.1|
|Cash and Cash Equivalents and restricted cash at Start of Year||90.1||73.3||54.2|
|Cash and Cash Equivalents and restricted cash at End of Year||$||147.6||$||90.1||$||73.3|
|(1)||Includes the repurchase of $17.6 million and $20.4 million of our 2022 Notes for 2019 and 2018, respectively, and the repurchase in full of $374.8 million of our prior 10.00% First Priority Senior Secured Notes due 2019, in October 2017.|
Year ended December 31, 2019 compared to Year ended December 31, 2018
Net cash provided by operating activities was $93.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 reflecting mainly net income of $39.8 million, adjusted for depreciation and amortization of $43.9 million, amortization of deferred financing costs and original issue discount of $4.2 million, amortization of intangible liabilities of $1.9 million, share-based compensation of $1.7 million, plus movements in working capital, including deferred revenue, of $1.8 million.
Net cash provided by operating activities for the year ended December 31, 2019 at $93.3 million was $45.6 million higher than in 2018 mainly due to the full year effect of the Poseidon Fleet acquired on November 15, 2018, and five further ship additions in 2019 which, inter alia, led to an increase of $104.0 million operating revenue, $45.9 million increase in vessel operating and time charter and voyage expenses and an increase of $26.3 million in net interest expense. In addition, movement in working capital was $8.7 million higher in 2019 compared to 2018.
Net cash used in investing activities for the year ended December 31, 2019 was $99.9 million, including $73.0 million for the purchase of ships, $18.7 million vessel additions and other advances and $7.4 million paid for drydockings.
Net cash provided by investing activities in December 31, 2018 was $24.3 million, including $24.0 million on completion of the Poseidon Transaction, $14.5 million proceeds from sale of Argos, offset by $11.4 million for the purchase of GSL Valerie and $2.6 million for drydockings.
Net cash provided by financing activities for the year ended December 31, 2019 was $64.1 million, including $39.8 million net proceeds from issuing our 2024 Notes, $327.5 million drawdown of new credit facilities, $50.7 million net proceeds from issuing Class A common shares and $1.0 million net proceeds from issuing Series B Preferred Shares under our ATM program offset by $17.6 million purchase of our 2022 Notes under the mandatory annual offer, $63.5 million amortization of credit facilities, $262.8 million repayment of refinanced debt, $7.9 million deferred financing costs paid and $3.1 million dividends paid on our Series B Preferred Shares. Net cash used in financing activities for the year ended December 31, 2018 was $55.2 million, including $37.8 million repayment of credit facilities, $20.4 million repayment of the 2022 Notes, $2.0 million deferred financing costs paid and $3.1 million dividend paid on the Series B Preferred Shares, offset by $8.1 million net drawdown from a new secured term loan for partly finance the acquisition of GSL Valerie.
Overall, there was a net increase in cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash of $57.5 million in the year ended December 31, 2019, resulting in closing cash of $147.6 million compared to closing cash of $90.1 million at December 31, 2018.
Year ended December 31, 2018 compared to Year ended December 31, 2017
For a discussion of our liquidity and capital resources for the year ended December 31, 2018 compared to the year ended December 31, 2017, please see “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects-B. Liquidity and Capital Resources-Liquidity, working capital and dividends-Year Ended December 31, 2018 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2017” contained in our Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2018, filed with the SEC on March 29, 2019.
Our indebtedness as of December 31, 2019 comprised:
|$ million||Collateral vessels||Interest Rate||Final maturity date|
|Citi Credit Facility||12.1||GSL Fleet (18 vessels)||LIBOR plus 3.25%||October 31, 2020|
|Hayfin Credit Facility||7.1||GSL Valerie||LIBOR plus 5.50%||July 16, 2022|
|DVB Credit Facility†||45.4||Maira, Nikolas, Newyorker, Mary||LIBOR plus 2.85%||December 31, 2020|
|Deutsche, CIT, HCOB Credit Facility||129.5||Al Khor, Anthea Y, Maira XL||LIBOR plus 3.00%||June 30, 2022|
|Blue Ocean Junior Credit Facility||35.2||Al Khor, Anthea Y, Maira XL||LIBOR plus 10.00%||June 30, 2022|
|Hellenic Credit Facility||57.7||GSL Eleni, GSL Kalliopi, GSL Grania, GSL Christel Elisabeth, GSL Vinia||LIBOR plus 3.90%||May 24, 2024|
|Senior Syndicated Facility||224.8||Orca I, Katherine, Dolphin II, Athena, Kristina, Agios Dimitrios, Alexandra, Alexis, Olivia||LIBOR plus 3.00%||September 24, 2024|
|Junior Syndicated Facility||38.5||Orca I, Katherine, Dolphin II, Athena, Kristina, Agios Dimitrios, Alexandra, Alexis, Olivia||10.00%||September 24, 2024|
|2022 Notes||322.7||GSL Fleet (18 vessels)||9.875%||November 15, 2022|
|2024 Notes||39.8||(Unsecured)||8.00%||December 31, 2024|
† This facility was refinanced on February 13, 2020 by Tranche B of the Senior Syndicated Facility and a new $9.0 million facility secured by three vessels.
8.00% Senior Unsecured Notes due 2024
On November 19, 2019, we issued $27.5 million aggregate principal amount of 8.00% Senior Unsecured Notes due 2024 (the “2024 Notes”) in an underwritten public offering. On November 27, 2019, we issued an additional $4.1 million aggregate principal amount of 2024 Notes pursuant the underwriters’ exercise of their option to purchase such additional 2024 Notes.
On November 27, 2019, we entered into an “At Market Issuance Sales Agreement” with B. Riley FBR, Inc. (the “Agent”) pursuant to which we may sell, from time to time, up to an additional $68.0 million of 2024 Notes (the “2024 Notes ATM Program”). As of December 31, 2019, we had issued and sold approximately $8.1 million aggregate principal amount of 2024 Notes under the 2024 Notes ATM Program.
Interest on the 2024 Notes is payable on the last day of February, May, August and November of each year commencing on February 29, 2020 and the 2024 Notes have a maturity date of December 31, 2024.
We have the option to redeem the 2024 Notes for cash, in whole or in part, at any time (i) on or after December 31, 2021 and prior to December 31, 2022, at a price equal to 102% of the principal amount, (ii) on or after December 31, 2022 and prior to December 31, 2023, at a price equal to 101% of the principal amount and (iii) on or after December 31, 2023 and prior to maturity, at a price equal to 100% of the principal amount.
As of December 31, 2019, the total outstanding aggregate principal amount of the 2024 Notes was $39.8 million.
9.875% First Priority Secured Notes due 2022
On October 31, 2017, we issued $360.0 million in aggregate principal amount of 9.875% First Priority Secured Notes due 2022 (the “2022 Notes”) in a private placement. The 2022 Notes mature on November 15, 2022. Proceeds after the deduction of the original issue discount, but before expenses, amounted to $356.4 million.
The 2022 Notes bear interest at a coupon rate of 9.875% per annum and is payable semi-annually on May 15 and November 15 of each year, commencing on May 15, 2018. As of December 31, 2019, the 2022 Notes were secured by first priority ship mortgages on 18 of our vessels in the GSL Fleet and by assignments of earnings and insurances, pledges over certain bank accounts, as well as share pledges over each subsidiary owning a Mortgaged Vessel. In addition, the 2022 Notes are fully and unconditionally guaranteed, jointly and severally, by our relevant 18 vessel owning subsidiaries and Global Ship Lease Services Limited. The indenture governing the 2022 Notes require us to have a minimum cash balance of $20.0 million on each test date, being March 31, June 30, September 30 and December 31 in each year.
We are required to repay $40.0 million each year for the first three years and $35.0 million thereafter (the “Repayment Requirement”), across both the 2022 Notes and the Citibank Super Senior Term Loan (“Citi Credit Facility”). See “—$54.8 Million Citi Credit Facility” below. The Citi Credit Facility has minimum fixed amortization whereas as long as amounts are outstanding under the Citi Credit Facility, amortization of the 2022 Notes is at the option of the noteholders, who can accept or reject an annual tender offer which we are obliged to make. In December 2018, pursuant to the Repayment Requirement, the tender offer was accepted in full and we repurchased $20.0 million nominal amount of the 2022 Notes at a purchase price of 102%. In December 2019, pursuant to the Repayment Requirement, the tender offer of $20.0 million was partially accepted by the noteholders and we repurchased $17.3 million of the 2022 Notes at a purchase price of 102%. In accordance with the terms of the Citi Credit Facility and indenture governing the 2022 Notes, the balance of the offer of $2.7 million was applied to repay the Citi Credit Facility.
On December 20, 2018, we entered into a First Supplemental Indenture of the 2022 Notes under which the date beginning on which we are permitted to pay dividends to common shareholders in an aggregate amount per year equal to 50% of our consolidated net profit after taxes for the preceding financial year, was brought forward from January 1, 2021 to January 1, 2020. Also, certain restrictions were agreed in the increase in the permitted transfer basket and the immediate increase in dividend capacity as a result of completing the Poseidon Transaction, and certain other provisions of the Indenture, among other things, the restricted payment covenant, the arm’s length transaction covenant and the reporting covenant were amended.
During the first quarter of 2020, we entered into a series of supplemental indentures to the indenture governing the 2022 Notes in connection with the change of jurisdiction of certain of our subsidiary guarantors thereunder.
We may redeem the 2022 Notes in whole or in part, at our option, at any time at the redemption prices (expressed as percentages of principal amount) set forth below plus accrued and unpaid interest, if any, on the 2022 Notes redeemed, to the applicable redemption date, if redeemed during the twelve-month period beginning on November 15 of the years indicated below, subject to the rights of holders of 2022 Notes on the relevant record date to receive interest on the relevant interest payment date:
As of December 31, 2019, the outstanding balance on the 2022 Notes was $322.7 million. On February 10, 2020, we effected an optional redemption of $46.0 million principal amount of the 2022 Notes at a purchase price 104.938% of the principal amount redeemed plus accrued and unpaid interest, bringing the aggregate principal amount outstanding following the redemption to $276.7 million.
$54.8 million Citi Credit Facility
On October 26, 2017, and in connection with our 2022 Notes, we entered into a $54.8 loan facility with Citibank N.A., which we refer to as the Citi Credit Facility. The proceeds of this facility were used, together with the proceeds of our 2022 Notes and cash on hand, to refinance our 10.00% first priority secured notes due 2019 and other debt then outstanding. The term loan matures on October 31, 2020. The term loan is cross-collateralized on a first priority basis with the collateral under our 2022 Notes, including 18 vessels in the GSL Fleet. The loan is payable semi-annually in instalments of $10.0 million resulting in minimum repayment of $20.0 million in each of the first and second years with the balance of the Citi Credit Facility to be repaid in the third year. Amortization may be accelerated, as described above in “—Indebtedness—Notes—9.875% First Priority Secured Notes due 2022.”
The term loan bears interest at LIBOR plus a margin of 3.25%.
As of December 31, 2019, the outstanding balance of the Citi Credit Facility was $12.1 million.
$65.0 million Hayfin Credit Facility
In September 2018, we entered into a $65.0 million facility agreement with Hayfin Services LLP, as agent and service agent, and certain other financial institutions, which we refer to as the Hayfin Credit Facility. The Hayfin Credit Facility provides for a secured term loan of up to $65.0 million, which was available for drawing until May 10, 2019, and matures on July 16, 2022. The proceeds of this loan were to be used to finance our acquisition of feeder container vessels with carrying capacities of 1,000 to 3,600 TEU, with such borrowed amounts not to exceed the lower of scrap value, calculated at $400 per lightweight tonne and 65% of the charter free market value of the vessel to be acquired. On September 10, 2018, we drew down approximately $8.1 million in connection with our acquisition of GSL Valerie.
The facility bears interest at LIBOR plus a margin of 5.50%.
As of December 31, 2019, the outstanding balance of the Hayfin Credit Facility was $7.1 million.
$52.6 million DVB Credit Facility
In connection with the Poseidon Transaction, we assumed debt outstanding of $51.1 million related to the vessels Maira, Nikolas, Newyorker and Mary, provided by DVB Bank SE (“DVB”). The facility agreement, which we refer to as the DVB Credit Facility, is dated July 18, 2017, with an initial drawdown amount of $52.6 million and final maturity of December 31, 2020.
The DVB Credit Facility has a repayment schedule, along with a cash sweep clause, whereby excess cash flows will be used against the outstanding balance of the facility and will be specifically applied to the prepayment of the balloon instalment up to a specific amount. Tranches A and B, each amounting to $5.5 million, are scheduled to be repaid in four consecutive quarterly instalments of $0.3 million starting from March 31, 2020 and a balloon payment of $4.4 million payable on December 31, 2020. Tranche C, amounting to $5.8 million, is scheduled to be repaid in four consecutive quarterly instalments of $0.3 million starting from March 31, 2020 and a balloon payment of $4.7 million payable on December 31, 2020. Tranche D, of the remaining $35.8 million, is scheduled to be repaid in four consecutive quarterly instalments of $1.1 million starting from March 31, 2020 and a balloon payment of $31.5 million payable also on December 31, 2020. In addition, certain financial covenants will apply starting from January 1, 2020.
The DVB Credit Facility bears interest at LIBOR plus a margin of 2.85% per annum.
As of December 31, 2019, the outstanding balance on the DVB Credit Facility was $45.4 million.
On February 13, 2020, the DVB Credit Facility was fully refinanced through the utilization of the $38.0 million Tranche B of the Senior Syndicated Facility, and an additional facility of $9.0 million which we entered into with an international bank in February 2020 and which is secured by mortgages over the vessels Maira, Nikolas and Newyorker.
$180.5 million Deutsche, CIT, HCOB, Entrust, Blue Ocean Credit Facility
In connection with the Poseidon Transaction, we assumed debt outstanding of $180.5 million relating to the vessels UASC Al Khor, Maira XL and Anthea Y provided by Deutsche Bank AG. The agreement is dated November 9, 2018, with initial drawdown amount of $180.5 million and final maturity of June 30, 2022.
On December 31, 2018, the borrowers entered into a deed of amendment and restatement with the bank. Based on this restatement there was a re-tranche of the facility such that it was split into a senior facility in an amount of $141.9 million (“Senior Facility”) and a junior facility in an amount of $38.6 million (“Blue Ocean Junior Facility”). The lenders of the Senior Facility are Deutsche Bank AG, Hamburg Commercial Bank AG (“HCOB”) and CIT Bank N.A and the lenders of the Blue Ocean Junior Facility are Blue Ocean GP LLC, Blue Ocean Income Fund LP, Blue Ocean Onshore Fund LP, Entrustpermal ICAV, Blue Ocean Investments SPC one and Blue Ocean Investments SPC. The final maturity of both Facilities (Senior and Blue Ocean Junior) is June 30, 2022. In addition to the repayment schedule, a cash sweep mechanism based on a DSCR ratio of 1.10:1 (DSCR ratio is the ratio of Cash Flow to the Cash Flow Debt Service) will apply pro rata against the Senior Facility and the Blue Ocean Junior Facility.
The Senior Facility is comprised of three tranches. Tranche A relates to Al Khor and is scheduled to be repaid in 14 instalments of $0.9 million with the first such instalment due three months from the utilization date, and a final instalment of $35.1 million. Tranche B relates to Anthea Y and is scheduled to be repaid in 14 instalments of $0.9 million, the first such instalment due three months from the utilization date, and a final instalment of $35.2 million. Tranche C relates to Maira XL and is scheduled to be repaid in 14 instalments of $0.9 million, the first such instalment due three months from the utilization date, and a final instalment of $35.3 million.
The Senior Facility bears interest at LIBOR plus 3.00% payable quarterly in arrears.
As of December 31, 2019, the outstanding balance on the Senior Facility was $129.5 million.
Blue Ocean Junior Facility
The Blue Ocean Junior Facility is comprised of in three Tranches. Tranche A relates to Al Khor and is scheduled to be repaid in 14 instalments of $0.2 million, the first such instalment due three months from the utilization date, and a final instalment of $9.6 million. Tranche B relates to Anthea Y and is scheduled to be repaid in 14 instalments of $0.2 million, the first such instalment due three months from the utilization date, and a final instalment of $9.6 million. Tranche C relates to Maira XL and is scheduled to be repaid in 14 instalments of $0.2 million, the first such instalment due three months from the utilization date, and a final instalment of $9.6 million.
The Blue Ocean Junior Facility bears interest at LIBOR plus 10.00% payable quarterly in arrears.
As of December 31, 2019, the outstanding balance on the Blue Ocean Junior Facility was $35.2 million.
$59.0 million Hellenic Bank Credit Facility
On May 23, 2019, we entered into a facility agreement with Hellenic Bank Public Company Limited for an amount up to $37.0 million, which we refer to as the Hellenic Credit Facility. Borrowings under the Hellenic Credit Facility were available in tranches and were used in connection with the acquisition of the GSL Eleni, GSL Kalliopi and GSL Grania. We drew down on an initial tranche of $13.0 million on May 24, 2019, in connection with the acquisition of the GSL Eleni. The first tranche is repayable in 20 equal quarterly instalments of $0.5 million each with a final balloon payment of $4.0 million payable together with the final instalment. We drew down a second tranche of $12.0 million on September 4, 2019, in connection with the acquisition of the GSL Grania. The second tranche is repayable in 20 equal quarterly instalments of $0.4 million each with a final balloon payment of $4.0 million, payable together with the final instalment. The third tranche of $12.0 million was drawn on October 3, 2019, in connection with the acquisition of GSL Kalliopi. The third tranche is repayable in 20 equal quarterly instalments of $0.4 million each with a final balloon payment of $4.0 million payable together with the final instalment.
On December 10, 2019, we entered into an amended and restated loan agreement with Hellenic Bank for an additional facility of amount $22.0 million that was to be borrowed in two tranches and was to be used in connection with the acquisition of the vessels Verdi (renamed GSL Vinia) and GSL Christel Elisabeth. Both additional tranches were drawn on December 10, 2019. Each tranche is repayable in 20 equal quarterly instalments of $0.4 million each with a final balloon payment of $3.5 million payable together with the final instalment.
The Hellenic Credit Facility bears interest at LIBOR plus a margin of 3.90% per annum. As of December 31, 2019, the outstanding balance of the Hellenic Credit Facility was $57.7 million.
$268.0 million Syndicated Senior Secured Credit Facility
On September 19, 2019, we entered into a new syndicated $268.0 million senior secured credit facility comprised of two tranches (the “Senior Syndicated Facility”) with Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, ABN AMRO BANK N.V., CIT Bank N.A, Siemens Financial Services, Inc, Bank SINOPAC CO. LTD, CTBC Bank CO., LTD. and Banque Palatine. The first tranche of the Senior Syndicated Facility of $230.0 million was drawn down, in full, and the proceeds were used to refinance five of our senior credit facilities existing at the time with maturities in December 2020 and April 2021 (the “First Tranche Refinancing”). The senior credit facilities that were refinanced were our $65.3 million ABN AMRO Bank Credit Facility, $17.1 million Amsterdam Trade Bank N.V. Credit Facility, $80.0 million Crédit Agricole Credit Facility, $24.5 million Blue Ocean Credit Facility and $55.7 million Crédit Agricole Credit Facility. As a result of the First Tranche Refinancing, three 2000-built 6,000 TEU ships, Tasman, Dimitris Y and Ian H, became unencumbered. The second tranche of up to $38.0 million is available to us on similar terms until May 2020 to facilitate further refinancing. The final maturity date of the Senior Syndicated Facility is September 2024, five years after drawdown. Borrowings under the Senior Syndicated Facility bear interest at LIBOR plus a margin of 3.00% and the scheduled amortization of the first tranche is $5.2 million per quarter plus a balloon payment of $126.0 million.
As of December 31, 2019, the outstanding balance of the Senior Syndicated Facility was $224.8 million.
Tranche B amounts to $38.0 million and was committed for eight months after the signing of the loan agreement. Upon draw down, Tranche B is scheduled to be repaid in 20 consecutive quarterly instalments of $1.0 million and a balloon payment of $18.0 million payable in the termination date on the fifth anniversary from the utilization date of Tranche A, which falls in September 24, 2024. On February 13, 2020, Tranche B was fully drawn to refinance the DVB Credit Facility.
The interest rate is LIBOR plus a margin of 3.00% and is payable at each quarter end date.
$38.5 million Junior Syndicated Facility
On September 19, 2019, we also refinanced all of the existing indebtedness under our $38.5 million Blue Ocean Credit Facility (the “Junior Syndicated Facility”), with the only change being to extend the maturity from September 2023 to September 2024, consistent with the maturity date of the Senior Syndicated Facility. The other terms of the Junior Syndicated Facility remain consistent with the original $38.5 million Blue Ocean Credit Facility, bearing interest at 10.00% and repayable in one balloon payment upon maturity.
As of December 31, 2019, the outstanding balance of the Junior Syndicated Facility was $38.5 million.
Certain of our credit facilities have financial covenants, which require us to maintain, on borrowers or subholding level, among other things:
|·||minimum consolidated liquidity of not less than $12.5 million, or an average of $300,000 per vessel, whichever is higher;|
|·||minimum net worth of not less than $50.0 million;|
|·||minimum market value of collateral for each credit facility, such that the aggregate market value of the vessels collateralizing the particular credit facility is between 125% and 135%, depending on the particular facility, of the aggregate principal amount outstanding under such credit facility, or, if we do not meet such threshold, to provide additional security to eliminate the shortfall; and|
The agreements governing our indebtedness also contain undertakings limiting or restricting us from, among other things:
|·||incurring additional indebtedness or issuing certain preferred stock;|
|·||making any substantial change to the general nature of our business;|
|·||paying dividends on or repaying or distributing any dividend or share premium reserve;|
|·||redeeming or repurchasing capital stock;|
|·||creating or impairing certain securities interests, including liens;|
|·||transferring or selling certain assets;|
|·||entering into certain transactions other than arm’s length transactions;|
|·||acquiring a company, shares or securities or a business or undertaking;|
|·||entering into any amalgamation, demerger, merger, consolidation or corporate reconstruction, or selling all or substantially all of our properties or assets;|
|·||experiencing any change in the position of Executive Chairman; and|
|·||changing the flag, class or technical or commercial management of the vessel mortgaged under such facility or terminating or materially amending the management agreement relating to such vessel.|
Our secured credit facilities are generally secured by, among other things:
|·||a first priority mortgage over the relevant collateralized vessels;|
|·||first priority assignment of earnings and insurances from the mortgaged vessels;|
|·||pledge of the earnings account of the mortgaged vessel;|
|·||pledge of the equity interest of each of the vessel-owning subsidiaries; and|
Debt Repaid in 2019
$65.3 million ABN AMRO Bank Credit Facility
In connection with the Poseidon Transaction, we assumed debt outstanding of $64.3 million relating to Orca II and Katherine provided by ABN AMRO Bank N.V. The agreement was dated August 30, 2017, with initial drawdown amount of $65.3 million and final maturity of December 31, 2020.
The facility had a repayment schedule, along with a cash sweep clause, whereby the excess cash flows would be used against the outstanding balance on the facility and would be specifically applied to the prepayment of the balloon instalment up to a specific amount. The facility was scheduled to be repaid in four consecutive instalments in the amount of $1.1 million starting from March 31, 2020 plus a balloon instalment of $60.8 million on December 31, 2020.
This facility carried interest at LIBOR plus a margin of 3.42% per annum up to March 31, 2019 and afterwards 3.50% per annum.
This facility was refinanced by the Senior Syndicated Facility on September 24, 2019.
$17.1 million Amsterdam Trade Bank N.V. Credit Facility
In connection with the Poseidon Transaction, we assumed debt outstanding of 17.1 million relating to Tasman, Dimitris Y and Ian H provided by Amsterdam Trade Bank N.V. The agreement was dated October 9, 2018 with initial drawdown amount of $17.1 million divided in three tranches of $5.7 million each and final maturity of December 31, 2020.
The facility had a repayment schedule along with a cash sweep clause, whereby the excess cash flows would be used against the outstanding balance on the facility and would be specifically applied to the prepayment of the balloon instalment up to a specific amount. Each Tranche was scheduled to be repaid in four consecutive quarterly instalments of $110,000 each, with the first being due on March 31, 2020 and the final together with a balloon payment of $5.3 million on December 31, 2020.
This facility carried interest at LIBOR plus a margin of 3.90% per annum.
This facility was refinanced by the Syndicated Senior Secured Facility on September 24, 2019.
$80.0 million Credit Agricole Credit Facility
In connection with the Poseidon Transaction, we assumed debt outstanding of $80.0 million relating to Alexandra, Alexis (previously named UASC Bubiyan) and Olivia I (previously named UASC Yas) provided by Credit Agricole. The agreement was dated October 3, 2018, with initial drawdown amount of $80.0 million and final maturity of June 30, 2020.
The Facility was to be repaid in 10 equal quarterly instalments of $1.5 million each, the first such instalment due three months from the utilization date, plus a final balloon of $65.0 million payable together with the final instalment.
This facility carried interest at LIBOR plus a margin of 3.00% per annum for the first 6 months, 3.25% for the following 12 months and 3.50% thereafter payable quarterly in arrears.
This facility was refinanced by the Senior Syndicated Facility on September 24, 2019.
$24.5 million Blue Ocean Credit Facility
In connection with the Poseidon Transaction, we assumed debt outstanding of $24.2 million relating to Agios Dimitrios provided by Blue Ocean Income Fund LP, Blue Ocean Onshore Fund LP, Blue Ocean Investments SPC One and Blue Ocean Investments SPC Three. The agreement was dated August 11, 2017, with initial drawdown amount of $24.5 million and final maturity of December 31, 2020.
The facility had a repayment schedule, along with a cash sweep clause, whereby the excess cash flows would be used against the outstanding balance on the facility and would be specifically applied to the prepayment of the balloon instalment up to a specific amount. The facility was scheduled to be repaid in four consecutive quarterly instalments of $0.6 million starting from March 31, 2020 and a balloon payment of $21.9 million payable on December 31, 2020.
This facility carried interest on $18.8 million of principal at LIBOR plus a margin of 4.00% per annum.
This facility was refinanced by the Senior Syndicated Facility on September 24, 2019.
$55.7 million Credit Agricole Credit Facility
In connection with the Poseidon Transaction, we assumed debt outstanding of $54.0 million relating to Dolphin II, Kristina and Athena, provided by Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (“Credit Agricole”). The agreement was dated August 11, 2017, with initial drawdown amount of $55.7 million and final maturity of December 31, 2020.
The facility had a repayment schedule, along with a cash sweep clause, whereby the excess cash flows would be used against the outstanding balance of the facility and would be specifically applied to the prepayment of the balloon instalment up to a specific amount. Tranche A, amounting to $19.4 million, was scheduled to be repaid in four consecutive quarterly instalments of $0.3 million starting from March 31, 2020 and a balloon payment of $18.0 million payable on December 31, 2020. Tranche B, amounting to $10.5 million, was scheduled to be repaid in four consecutive quarterly instalments of $0.2 million starting from March 31, 2020 and a balloon payment of $9.7 million payable on December 31, 2020. Tranche C, amounting to $25.8 million, was scheduled to be repaid in four consecutive quarterly instalments of $0.8 million starting from March 31, 2020 and a balloon payment of $22.4 million payable also on December 31, 2020. In addition, certain financial covenants will apply starting from January 1, 2020.
This facility carried interest at LIBOR plus a margin of 2.75% per annum.
This facility was refinanced by the Senior Syndicated Facility on September 24, 2019.
As of December 31, 2019, we had $912.8 million of debt outstanding of which $322.7 million was for our 2022 Notes which carry interest at a fixed rate of 9.875%, $38.5 million was provided by Blue Ocean at a fixed rate of interest of 10.0%, $39.8 million was for our 2024 Notes which carry interest at the fixed rate of 8.00% and $511.8 million was floating rate debt across a number of facilities and bearing interest at LIBOR plus an average margin of approximately 3.60%.
Our liquidity requirements are significant, primarily due to drydocking costs and debt service requirements. As indicated in “—F. Tabular Disclosure of Contractual Obligations,” below, minimum amortization of debt in 2020 totals $87.5 million and interest is $63.7 million. The table shows minimum amortization of debt of $521.2 million for 2021 and 2022; interest in that period would be $101.9 million. The table shows minimum amortization of debt of $302.6 million for 2023 and 2024; interest in that period would be $28.3 million.
We believe that funds generated by the business and retained will be sufficient to meet our operating needs for the next twelve months following the issuance of this Form 20-F, including working capital requirements, drydocking costs, interest and debt repayment obligations.
As market conditions warrant, we may from time to time, depending upon market conditions and the provisions of the indenture governing the 2022 Notes and of the agreement governing the Citi Credit Facility, seek to repurchase debt securities that we have issued or repay loans that we have borrowed, including the 2022 Notes and borrowings under our other credit facilities, in privately-negotiated or open market transactions, by tender offer or otherwise.
Working capital and dividends
Our net cash flows from operating activities depend on the number of vessels under charter, days on-hire, vessel charter rates, operating expenses, drydock costs, interest and other financing costs including amortization and general and administrative expenses. Pursuant to our ship management agreements, we have agreed to pay our ship managers an annual management fee per vessel and to reimburse them for operating costs they incur on our behalf. Charterhire is payable by our charterers 15 days in advance and estimated ship management costs are payable monthly in advance. Although we can provide no assurances (see “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to our Business—We are highly dependent on charter payments from CMA CGM”), we expect that our cash flow from our chartering arrangements will be sufficient to cover our ship management costs and fees, interest payments under the Notes and our other borrowings, amortization, insurance premiums, vessel taxes, general and administrative expenses, dividends on our Series B Preferred Shares and other costs and any other working capital requirements for the short and medium term and planned drydocking expenses.
We estimate that the average cost of each of the 23 drydockings completed on vessels in the fleet between January 2013 and December 2018 was $1.2 million, with an average loss of revenue of $0.4 million from offhire. We have included a schedule of the next anticipated drydocking date for each of our vessels in the section of this Annual Report entitled “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Inspection by Classification Societies.”
Our other liquidity requirements include a requirement to pay $40.0 million of amortization, across both the 2022 Notes and the Citi Credit Facility in 2020. Thereafter, the amortization requirement falls to $35 million per annum. Finally, the dividend on the $35.0 million Series B Preferred Shares outstanding as at December 31, 2019 amounts to $3.1 million each year. In addition to funds generated by the business, we may require new borrowings, issuances of equity or other securities, or a combination of the former and the latter to purchase additional vessels and will likely require such further funding to meet all of our repayment obligations under the 2022 Notes and other borrowings.
C. Research and Development
D. Trend Information
All of the information and data presented in this section, including the analysis of the container shipping industry, has been provided by MSI. MSI has advised that (i) some information in MSI’s database is derived from estimates derived from industry sources or subjective judgments, (ii) the information in the databases of other maritime data collection agencies may differ from the information in MSI’s database, (iii) whilst MSI has taken reasonable care in the compilation of the statistical and graphical information and believes it to be accurate and correct, data compilation is subject to limited audit and validation procedures and may accordingly contain errors, (iv) MSI, its agents, officers and employees cannot accept liability for any loss suffered in consequence of reliance on such information or in any other manner, and (v) the provision of such information does not obviate any need to make appropriate further inquiries.
Containerization is the most convenient and cost-effective way to transport a wide range of cargoes, predominantly a diverse selection of consumer, manufactured, and semi-manufactured goods. Furthermore, emissions per ton-mile of cargo carried compare favorably to other existing modes of transport. The first containerized cargoes were shipped in the mid-1950s; global containerized trade volumes for 2019 are estimated to be 212 million TEU.
The containerized supply chain extends throughout the world. The Mainlane trades are those linking the major manufacturing economies in Asia with the major consumer economies in North America and Europe and the trans-Atlantic trade. However, over 70% of global containerized trade volumes are in the non-Mainlane trades, with intra-regional trades alone representing almost 40%. The largest trade grouping comprises the intra-Asian trades connecting that region’s rapidly growing markets.
Growth in containerized trade is linked to consumer-led demand for manufactured goods and thereby to regional economic growth. Historically, underlying growth has been boosted by both the containerization of breakbulk goods, including refrigerated cargoes, and the relocation of manufacturing from developed economies such as those in Europe and North America, to lower cost regions, most notably in Asia. Of these, the continued containerization of refrigerated (or ‘reefer’) cargoes is expected to outpace overall container trade growth.
From 1993 to 2008, containerized trade grew at a compound annual rate of over 9.0%, driven by China’s infrastructural investment growth and integration into the global trade system, macroeconomic and construction booms in the United States and Western Europe, the off-shoring of production, and the expansion of global supply chains. 2009, due to the global financial crisis and recession, was the only year of negative growth in the industry’s history, with volumes shrinking 8.0%. Volumes recovered in 2010, with growth of 15.0%. Between 2011 and 2018 average compound annual growth of containerized trade was 3.5%. Full year growth in 2019 is estimated at 2.0%, despite negative sentiment resulting from trade tensions between the U.S. and China.
The rapid expansion in containerized trade also led to a rapid expansion in the global containership fleet, of which the vast majority of vessels are fully cellular containerships (ships specialized for the transport of containers and fitted with cell guides throughout the ship to optimize container stowage and significantly enhance the efficiency of load and discharge operations). At the same time, liner shipping companies have sought to reduce slot costs (unit costs) through economies of scale achievable with ever larger ships.
Between 1995 and 2008, the nominal carrying capacity of the industry-wide fully cellular fleet grew by a compound annual rate of 11.4%; and from 2009 through 2018 at 6.1%, as the industry digested the legacy, pre-crisis orderbook. In 2019, supply is estimated to have expanded by 4.0% and, as of December 31, 2019, the containership fleet stood at approximately 5,300 ships, with an aggregate capacity estimated at 22.9 million TEU – over half of which is chartered in from containership owners like GSL.
In December 2008, the orderbook was estimated to represent over 60% of existing global capacity. Since then, however, the industry has been adjusting to lower demand growth, capital constraints, and consolidation. By the end of 2019, the overall orderbook-to-fleet ratio was down to 10.9%; for ships between 2,000 TEU and 9,999 TEU, it was 2.5%.
Vessel newbuilding prices, secondhand values and charter rates have tended to be closely correlated and are all strongly influenced by the dynamics of supply and demand, combined with sentiment. From 2000 through 2019, the average newbuilding price for a theoretical 3,500 – 3,600 TEU containership was around $44 million, with prices ranging between $33 million (2016) and $63 million (2007). During the same period, secondhand values for a 10-year old ship of similar size averaged around $23 million and ranged between $5 million (2016) and $50 million (2007). Meantime, spot market charter rates for such tonnage averaged about $17,150 per day and ranged between $5,500 (2016) and $38,450 (2005). In January 2020, prevailing spot market charter rates were around $10,550 per day, with newbuilding prices at approximately $42 million and secondhand values for a 10 year old ship at about $9 million.
The containership market is currently responding to changes to the global regulations that govern vessel sulfur emissions. Sulfur dioxide (SOx) is produced as a by-product of burning conventional bunker fuels, and successive rounds of legislation set by the IMO have focused on reducing the associated air pollution. Under regulations in place prior to January 1, 2020, vessels could consume bunker fuel with a maximum sulfur content of 3.5% (except in certain coastal areas, where the limit was 0.1% sulfur content). From January 1, 2020, under IMO 2020, the maximum sulfur content of bunker fuel has been reduced to 0.5%. This applies globally and across the merchant shipping fleet, and not only to containerships.
Vessel owners and operators have three broad options to comply with the new regulations. The default is to consume bunker fuel with 0.5% sulfur content; an alternate is to install exhaust gas cleaning technology (“scrubbers”) that removes (or “scrubs”) the sulfur dioxide content from a vessel’s exhaust emissions; a third possibility is to switch to an alternate fuel source, such as LNG (an option which is realistically only available for newbuildings). It should be noted that, under time charter contracts, which are the most common contractual arrangements in the containership chartering space, fuel cost is for the account of and the responsibility of the charterer, rather than the containership owner. The pricing spread between “new” Low Sulfur Fuel Oil and “old” (lower cost) High Sulfur Fuel Oil has prompted the installation of scrubbers on part of the containership fleet. The pricing spread is expected to become increasingly narrow over time.
Early 2020 has also seen the appearance of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, beginning in China and spreading to most other areas of the world. The pandemic has resulted in the implementation of numerous actions by governments and governmental agencies in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus, which has in turn resulted in a significant reduction in global economic activity and extreme volatility in the financial markets. The longer-term implications of this pandemic on container shipping are, as yet, unclear.
E. Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
We do not have any off-balance sheet arrangements that have or are reasonably likely to have a current or future effect on our financial condition, changes in financial condition, revenues or expenses, results of operations, liquidity, capital expenditures or capital resources that is material to investors.
F. Tabular Disclosure of Contractual Obligations
The contractual obligations presented below represent our estimates of future payments under fixed contractual obligations and commitments as of December 31, 2019. These amounts do not include dividends on the Series B Preferred Shares which currently amount to $3.1 million annually. Changes in our business needs or in interest rates, as well as actions by third parties and other factors, may cause these estimates to change. These estimates are necessarily subjective and our actual payments in future periods are likely to vary from those presented in the table.
|Less than |
|More than |
|(in millions of U.S. dollars)|
|Long-term debt obligations, excluding interest(1)||$||87.5||$||521.2||$||302.6||$||1.5||$||912.8|
|Interest on long-term debt(2)||63.7||101.9||28.3||—||193.9|
|Ship management agreements(3)||14.1||16.2||3.0||—||33.3|
|(1)||Consists of total debt outstanding as of December 31, 2019 of $322.7 million aggregate principal amount of the 2022 Notes, $12.1 million under our Citi Credit Facility, $7.1 million under the Hayfin Credit Facility, $473.4 million under the Poseidon credit facilities (comprised of the DVB Facility, Deutsche, CIT, Entrust Credit Facility, Blue Ocean Junior Facility, Senior Syndicated Facility and Junior Syndicated Facility), $57.7 million under the Hellenic Credit Facility and $39.8 million under our 2024 Notes. The table reflects the annual redemption of the 2022 Notes and amortization of the Citi Credit Facility, as relevant, as well as the scheduled fixed amortization and final repayments of all other credit facilities, excluding future cash sweeps other than the sweeps paid in the first and to be paid in the second quarter 2020 reflecting excess cash generated in third and fourth quarter 2019, as defined in the relevant credit facilities.|
|(2)||Represents aggregate interest payments at the fixed rate of 9.875% on the 2022 Notes, at the fixed rate of 8.00% on the 2024 Notes and at the fixed rate of 10.00% on the Junior Syndicated Facility and on all of our floating rate debt at the relevant margin plus LIBOR at 1.00%.|
|(3)||Reflects the fees payable to our ship manager for (i) the minimum term of 36-60 months for the ship management agreements with Technomar, from the actual or anticipated effective date of these contracts, at a daily rate of €685 and an exchange rate of 1.120 USD:Euro, inflated at 2.5% annually and brokerage commissions payable to our commercial manager, Conchart, for the current employment of the fleet, up to earliest date of redelivery under current charters. The obligations to our ship managers do not include any amount for the reimbursement of daily operating costs incurred by them on our behalf.|
G. Safe Harbor
See the section titled “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” at the beginning of this Annual Report.
|Item 6.||Directors, Senior Management and Employees|
A. Directors and Senior Management
Our directors and executive officers as of the date of this Annual Report and their ages as of December 31, 2019 are listed below:
|George Giouroukos||54||Executive Chairman|
|Michael S. Gross||58||Director|
|Henry Mannix III||40||Director|
|Menno van Lacum||49||Director|
|Ian J. Webber||62||Chief Executive Officer|
|Thomas A. Lister||50||Chief Commercial Officer|
|Anastasios Psaropoulos||41||Chief Financial Officer|
George Giouroukos: Mr. Giouroukos has been our Executive Chairman since November 2018 when the strategic combination with Poseidon Containers was completed. He has been involved in Shipping since 1993, when he joined a major Greek shipowning company and worked in various departments. He founded Technomar, an internationally recognized ship management company, in 1994, where he has served as Managing Director. With over 25 years of experience in the sector, he has negotiated and executed over 200 secondhand and newbuilding ship transactions, creating partnerships with a number of major shipping banks resulting in co-investment of approximately $230 million in workout transactions. He has also partnered with Private Equity firms to jointly invest in container and dry bulk ships. Mr. Giouroukos serves as the Chairman of the Hellenic Advisory Committee of International classification society, RINA and holds a Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering from University College London and a Master in Engineering from Brunel University.
Michael S. Gross: Mr. Gross has been a director since inception and was Chairman from September 2008 to November 2018 when the strategic combination with Poseidon Containers closed. Since 2010, Mr. Gross has been the Chairman of the board of directors and Chief Executive Officer of Solar Senior Capital Ltd. Since 2007, Mr. Gross has served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Solar Capital Ltd, a finance company focusing on debt and equity investments in leveraged companies. From 2004 to 2006, Mr. Gross was the President and Chief Executive Officer of Apollo Investment Corporation (“AIC”), a publicly traded business development company, and was the managing partner of Apollo Investment Management, L.P. (“AIM”), the investment adviser to AIC. From 1990 to 2006 Mr. Gross was a senior partner of Apollo Management, a leading private equity firm which he co-founded in 1990.
Alain Wils: Mr. Wils has been a director since May 2014. He is a consultant in the shipping and logistics industries, after more than 40 years of experience in the sector. Mr. Wils joined the CMA CGM group in 1996 as managing director of the previously state-owned shipping company, CGM, on its acquisition by CMA. He was appointed an executive board member of CMA CGM in 2001 on the merger of CMA and CGM until his retirement in 2008. From 1992 to 1996, he was chairman and CEO of Sceta International, later renamed Geodis International, a leading European logistics and freight forwarding company. He was the managing director of the shipping group Delmas Vieljeux, which he joined in 1971, from 1982 to 1992. Mr. Wils, who is a graduate of HEC Paris and of Paris University, was appointed Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1995 and chaired the French Shipowners’ Association from 1998 to 2000.
Philippe Lemonnier: Mr. Lemonnier has been a director since September 2017. He currently serves as Vice President Group Performance Control at CMA CGM group. Previously he was Global Head of Efficiency Programs at CEVA Logistics, also responsible for Procurement and the Margin Improvement Program. He has served as Group Financial Controller and in charge of the Agility Program (cost savings program) at CMA CGM, having joined the company in 2005. He has more than 30 years of experience in finance and accounting and has served in senior leadership roles across multiple industries, including as the Chief Financial Officer of two French telecommunications companies.
Michael Chalkias: Mr. Chalkias has been a director since November 2018 when the strategic combination with Poseidon Containers was completed. He is the Co-founder of Prime Marine, a leading international product tanker and gas carrier company, which has managed more than 95 ships since its inception, where he serves as Co-Chief Executive Officer. Since March 2018, Mr. Chalkias has also served as non-executive, non-independent director of First Ship Lease Trust (“FSL Trust”), a Singapore-based business trust listed on the Mainboard of the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited. FSL Trust currently owns a diversified portfolio of 18 ships. Mr. Chalkias has more than 25 years of experience in the shipping industry, during which he has accumulated broad experience in all aspects of the business and established strong relationships in the shipping industry. Prior to co-founding Prime Marine’s predecessor in 1999, he was employed by Tufton Oceanic Limited, a specialized shipping finance and investment firm in London, where he was involved with debt and equity instruments as well as structured financing. Over the course of his career, Mr. Chalkias has invested in many ships, primarily product tankers and gas carriers. Mr. Chalkias holds an MSc with Distinction in Shipping, Trade & Finance from the Cass Business School at the City University of London and a BSc with Honors in Maritime Business and Maritime Law from the University of Plymouth.
Henry (Hank) Mannix III: Mr. Mannix was appointed a director in November 2018. He has served as a director of Poseidon Containers since 2010. Mr. Mannix joined Kelso & Company, a U.S. private equity firm, in 2004 and became a Managing Director in 2015. He spent the preceding two years in the investment banking division of Credit Suisse First Boston. Mr. Mannix is also a director of Elara Caring, Physicians Endoscopy and The Traxys Companies. Mr. Mannix received a B.A. in Math and Economics from the College of the Holy Cross in 2001. Mr. Mannix has extensive experience in corporate financing and in evaluating the financial performance and operations of companies across a variety of business sectors, including the shipping sector.
Alain Pitner: Mr. Pitner, who has 30 years of shipping experience, was appointed a director in November 2018. Mr. Pitner commenced his career in 1974 in the Risk Department of Banque Indosuez, now part of Credit Agricole Group. He held various operational and commercial responsibilities in the Bank’s French Export Credit Department. In 1987, Mr. Pitner joined the Shipping Division of the Bank’s Structured Finance Department, where he financed newbuildings and was also responsible for special projects. He then was entrusted with increasingly senior roles. In September 2017, after 42 years, Mr. Pitner retired from the bank. He graduated from Reims business school and holds a MSIA from Krannert Business School—Purdue University, USA.
Menno van Lacum: Mr. van Lacum was appointed a director in November 2018 and commenced his career in 1997 at the Fortis Group in the Netherlands. In 1999, he joined the Transportation Group at MeesPierson where he was responsible, in different capacities, for arranging and structuring debt capital markets and leasing products predominantly for the Transportation Equipment Leasing sector. In 2005, Mr. van Lacum became Director of the Fortis Principal Finance Group in the USA, responsible for holding equity investments and structuring debt instruments across different asset classes within the Transportation Sector. In 2009, Mr. van Lacum joined the Transportation Capital Group (“TCG”) as a Partner in the Netherlands. TCG is a private investment firm focusing primarily on the shipping industry. Mr. van Lacum holds a Master’s Degree in Economics from the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Ian J. Webber: Mr. Webber became our Chief Executive Officer in August 2008. From 1979 to 1996, Mr. Webber worked for PriceWaterhouse, the last five years of which he was a partner. From 1996 to 2006, Mr. Webber served as the Chief Financial Officer and a director of CP Ships Limited, a subsidiary of Canadian Pacific Limited until 2001 and thereafter a public company listed on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges until its acquisition by TUI A.G. in 2005. Mr. Webber is a graduate of Cambridge University.
Thomas A. Lister: Mr. Lister has been our Chief Commercial Officer since August 2008 and, from April 2017 until the merger with Poseidon Containers in November 2018, was also our Chief Financial Officer. From 2005 until 2007, Mr. Lister was a Senior Vice President at DVB. Before that, from 2004 to 2005, he worked for the German KG financier and ship owning group, Nordcapital & E.R.Schiffahrt, as Director of Business Development. From 1991 to 2002, Mr. Lister worked in a number of managerial, strategic and operational roles liner shipping companies and their agents. Mr. Lister graduated from Durham University and holds an MBA from INSEAD.
Anastasios Psaropoulos: Mr. Psaropoulos became our Chief Financial Officer in November 2018. He has over 12 years of experience in finance in the shipping sector. He has served as Chief Financial Officer of Poseidon Containers and Technomar, which he joined in 2011, participating in a number of successful distressed assets acquisitions. Prior to Poseidon, he was financial controller in Dolphin Capital, an AIM listed real estate development fund. He has also worked as an external auditor with PricewaterhouseCoopers, covering shipping and oil & gas industries. Mr. Psaropoulos holds a Master in Economics with specialization in Finance and Investments, from the Athens University of Economics and Business. He has also participated in the Program for Leadership Development (PLDA) of Harvard Business School.
Compensation of Executive Officers
For the year ended December 31, 2019, we have expensed an aggregate of $1.88 million in compensation to our current and former executive officers. Set forth below is a description of certain material terms of the employment agreements with each of our executive officers, which is qualified in its entirety by the respective agreements which are filed as exhibits hereto.
George Giouroukos, Executive Chairman
Mr. Giouroukos has entered into an employment contract with GSL Enterprises Ltd. (“GSL Enterprises”), our wholly-owned subsidiary, and Mr. Giouroukos serves as our Executive Chairman pursuant to the terms of an inter-company agreement between us and GSL Enterprises.
Pursuant to his employment agreement, Mr. Giouroukos receives an annual salary and is eligible to receive an annual performance-based cash bonus payment out of the profits of GSL Enterprises.
The agreement is terminable by Mr. Giouroukos if he provides not less than six months’ advance written notice to GSL Enterprises except if such termination is for “good reason”, including a “change in control” of Global Ship Lease, Inc., as such terms are defined in his employment agreement, in which case Mr. Giouroukos is able to terminate the agreement by providing not less than 14 days’ advance written notice to GSL Enterprises. GSL Enterprises is able to terminate Mr. Giouroukos’ employment agreement by providing no less than 12 months’ advance written notice to Mr. Giouroukos (subject to exceptions in the case of summary termination). If Mr. Giouroukos resigns for “good reason” or GSL Enterprises terminates his employment for any reason whatsoever other than for “cause”, Mr. Giouroukos is entitled to receive a severance payment in lieu of a salary and contractual benefits for 12 months following the termination date, together with any bonus payable in accordance with the terms of the employment agreement.
Ian Webber, Chief Executive Officer
GSLS, our wholly-owned subsidiary, has entered into an employment agreement with Mr. Webber and Mr. Webber serves as our Chief Executive Officer pursuant to the terms of an inter-company agreement between us and GSLS.
Mr. Webber’s employment agreement provided that for “good reason” following a “change of control” (each as defined in the employment agreement), he would be entitled to receive payment in lieu of salary and contractual benefits for his 12 month notice period, together with any accrued but unpaid bonus. As the Poseidon Transaction would constitute a “change of control” as defined, in order to protect the interests of the Global Ship Lease group, GSLS and Mr. Webber entered into an Amended and Restated Service Agreement dated June 1, 2018 with a further Deed of Amendment dated October 16, 2018.
Pursuant to these revised employment agreements, the Poseidon Transaction was excluded from the definition of change of control. On completion of the Poseidon Transaction, for so long as Mr. Webber has not resigned, he became entitled to a transaction bonus equivalent to 60% of six months’ salary, and is entitled to receive a Retention Amount payable in nine equal instalments, up to end of July 2019, being equal to salary and bonus at 60% of his salary for 12 months, together with bonus at 60% of his salary up to end July 2019. The company retained the right to terminate the employment agreement against payment of all amounts due, unless such termination was for cause. The company and Mr. Webber could have each terminated the employment agreement on one month’s notice within 90 days following the earlier of (i) the completion of the “Transition”, being the substantive completion of the transfer of accounting, finance and other administrative functions from London to Athens, and (ii) November 15, 2019, being the anniversary of the completion of the Poseidon Transaction. The Transition was completed on July 31, 2019. Should the employment agreement have been terminated in this manner, Mr. Webber would have been entitled to receive the balance of the Retention Amount, if any, the value of one year’s contractual benefits, such as private medical cover, and the balance of bonus, if any, at 60% of his salary from August 1, 2019 to the date of termination.
Mr. Webber receives a salary and is eligible to receive a cash bonus payment up to an annual maximum of 60% of his salary at the discretion of GSLS. He is also eligible to receive share based incentives.
The agreement is terminable by Mr. Webber if he provides not less than six months advance written notice to GSLS, or by GSLS if it provides not less than 12 months advance written notice to him (subject to exceptions in the case of summary termination). GSLS has the right to terminate Mr. Webber at any time and in its absolute discretion by paying Mr. Webber a sum equal to his salary and contractual benefits for the relevant period of notice.
The agreement also provides that, during his employment or for a period of one year thereafter, Mr. Webber will not, among other actions, solicit or attempt to solicit certain employees or certain customers of ours (or one of our group companies) or be involved in any relevant business in competition with us (or one of our group companies).
Anastasios Psaropoulos, Chief Financial Officer
Mr. Psaropoulos has entered into an employment contract with GSL Enterprises, our wholly-owned subsidiary, and pursuant to the terms of an inter-company agreement between us and GSL Enterprises Mr. Psaropoulos serves as our Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer.
Pursuant to the employment agreement, Mr. Psaropoulos receives an annual salary and is eligible to receive an annual performance-based cash bonus payment out of the profits of GSL Enterprises.
The agreement is terminable by Mr. Psaropoulos if he provides not less than six months’ advance written notice to GSL Enterprises except if such termination is for “good reason”, including a “change in control” of Global Ship Lease, Inc., as such terms are defined in the employment agreement, in which case Mr. Giouroukos is able to terminate the agreement by providing not less than 14 days’ advance written notice to GSL Enterprises. GSL Enterprises is able to terminate Mr. Psaropoulos’ employment agreement by providing no less than 12 months’ advance written notice to Mr. Psaropoulos (subject to exceptions in the case of summary termination). If Mr. Psaropoulos resigns for “good reason” or GSL Enterprises terminates his employment for any reason whatsoever other than for “cause”, Mr. Psaropoulos is entitled to receive a severance payment in lieu of a salary and contractual benefits for 12 months following the termination date, together with any bonus payable in accordance with the terms of the employment agreement.
Thomas Lister, Chief Commercial Officer
GSLS, our wholly-owned subsidiary, has entered into an employment agreement with Mr. Lister and, pursuant to the terms of an inter-company agreement between us and GSLS, Mr. Lister serves as our Chief Commercial Officer. Mr. Lister also previously served as our Chief Financial Officer from April 1, 2017 to November 15, 2018 until the merger with Poseidon Containers.
Mr. Lister’s employment agreement provided that for “good reason” following a “change of control” (each as defined in the employment agreement), he would be entitled to receive payment in lieu of salary and contractual benefits for his nine month notice period, together with any accrued but unpaid bonus. As the Poseidon Transaction would constitute a “change of control” as defined, in order to protect the interests of the Global Ship Lease group, GSLS and Mr. Lister entered into an Amended and Restated Service Agreement dated June 1, 2018 with a further Amended and Restated Service Agreement dated October 16, 2018.
Pursuant to the revised employment agreement, the Poseidon Transaction was excluded from the definition of change of control. On completion of the Poseidon Transaction, for so long as Mr. Lister has not resigned, he became entitled to a transaction bonus equivalent to 40% of six months’ salary, and is entitled to receive a Retention Amount payable in nine equal instalments, up to end of July 2019, being equal to salary and bonus at 40% of his salary for 12 months, together with bonus at 40% of his salary up to end July 2019. The company retained the right to terminate the employment agreement against payment of all amounts due, unless such termination was for cause. The company and Mr. Lister could have each terminated the employment agreement on one month’s notice within 90 days following the earlier of (i) the completion of the Transition, being the substantive completion of the transfer of accounting, finance and other administrative functions from London to Athens, and (ii) November 15, 2019, being the anniversary of the completion of the Poseidon Transaction. The Transition was completed on July 31, 2019. Should the employment agreement have been terminated in this manner, Mr. Lister would have been entitled to receive the balance of the Retention Amount, if any, the value of one year’s contractual benefits, such as private medical cover, and the balance of bonus, if any, at 40% of his salary from August 1, 2019 to the date of termination.
Mr. Lister receives a salary and is eligible to receive a cash bonus payment up to an annual maximum of 40% of his salary at the discretion of GSLS. He is also eligible to receive share based incentives.
The agreement is terminable by Mr. Lister if he provided not less than six months advance written notice to GSLS, or by GSLS if it provided not less than nine months advance written notice to him (subject to exceptions in the case of summary termination). Pursuant to the terms of his employment agreement, GSLS will have the right to terminate Mr. Lister at any time and in its absolute discretion by paying him a sum equal to his salary and contractual benefits for the relevant period of notice.
The agreement also provides that, during his employment or for a period of three months thereafter, Mr. Lister will not, among other actions, solicit or attempt to solicit certain employees or certain customers of ours (or one of our group companies) or be involved in any relevant business in competition with us (or one of our group companies).
Former Executive Officers
Vivek Puri, former Chief Technical Officer
Mr. Puri served as our Chief Technical Officer until completion of the Poseidon Transaction on November 15, 2018. GSLS and Mr. Puri agreed, under a Settlement Agreement dated January 18, 2019, that Mr. Puri’s employment would continue unless and until terminated by either party on at least two weeks’ notice. Mr. Puri received an initial severance amount and was entitled to a further severance amount at termination. Mr. Puri’s employment terminated on April 12, 2019.
Susan Cook, former Chief Financial Officer
Susan Cook served as our Chief Financial Officer until March 31, 2017, when she resigned from that role. She continued to be employed by GSLS, in a part-time advisory capacity, until February 28, 2019. Ms. Cook also entered into an Amended and Restated Service Agreement dated June 1, 2018 with a further Deed of Amendment dated October 16, 2018. Ms. Cook was also entitled to receive a Retention Amount, payable in six equal instalments, up to end of April 2019, being equal to salary and bonus at 40% for 12 months, together with bonus at 40% up to end July 2019. Ms. Cook’s employment terminated on February 28, 2019, accelerating the payment of the outstanding Retention Amount instalments.
Compensation of Directors
Our Executive Chairman is employed by GSL Enterprises Ltd. and is entitled to a net annual salary of $80,000 and an annual performance-based cash bonus which is anticipated to be at least $170,000. Our other directors receive an annual fee of $105,000. The Chairman of the audit committee receives an additional fee of $15,000 and each member of the audit committee receives an additional $7,500. The Chairman of the nominating and corporate governance committee and the compensation committee each receive an additional $5,000 and each member of those committees receives an additional $2,500. In addition, each director is reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses in connection with attending meetings of the board of directors or committees.
2019 Omnibus Incentive Plan
On February 4, 2019, our board of directors adopted the Global Ship Lease, Inc. 2019 Omnibus Incentive Plan, (the “2019 Plan”), under which directors, officers and employees (including any prospective director, officer or employee) of us and our subsidiaries and affiliates are eligible to receive non-qualified options, stock appreciation rights, restricted stock units, dividend equivalents, cash awards, unrestricted stock and other equity-based or equity-related awards as set forth fully in the 2019 Plan. We have reserved a total of 1,812,500 Class A common shares for issuance under the 2019 Plan during its 10-year term. During any calendar year, each non-employee director may not be granted more than 12,500 shares of Class A common stock or cash awards in excess of $100,000. We currently have 453,125 Class A common shares remaining to be awarded under the 2019 Plan.
The purpose of the 2019 Plan is to provide directors, officers and employees, whose initiative and efforts are deemed to be important to the successful conduct of our business, with incentives to (a) enter into and remain in the service of our company or our subsidiaries and affiliates, (b) acquire a proprietary interest in the success of our company, (c) maximize their performance and (d) enhance the long-term performance of our company. The 2019 Plan is administered by the compensation committee of our board of directors or such other committee of our board of directors as may be designated by the board.
Under the terms of the 2019 Plan, stock options and appreciation rights granted under the 2019 Plan will have an exercise price equal to the fair market value of a common share on the date of grant, provided that in no event may the exercise price be less than the fair market value of a common share on the date of grant. Options and stock appreciation rights will be exercisable at times and under conditions as determined by the plan administrator, but in no event will they be exercisable later than 10 years from the date of grant.
The plan administrator may grant restricted stock and awards of restricted stock units subject to vesting and forfeiture provisions and other terms and conditions as determined by the administrator of the 2019 Plan. Upon the vesting of a restricted stock unit, the award recipient will be paid an amount equal to the number of restricted stock units that then vest multiplied by the fair market value of a common share on the date of vesting, which payment may be paid in the form of cash or common shares or a combination of both, as determined by the administrator of the 2019 Plan. The 2019 Plan administrator may grant dividend equivalents with respect to grants of restricted stock units.
Adjustments may be made to outstanding awards in the event of a corporate transaction or change in capitalization or other extraordinary event. In the event of a “change in control” (as defined in the 2019 Plan), unless otherwise provided by the 2019 Plan administrator in an award agreement, awards then outstanding shall become fully vested and exercisable in full.
Our board of directors may amend or terminate the 2019 Plan and may amend outstanding awards, provided that no such amendment or termination may be made that would materially impair the rights or materially increase any obligations, of a grantee under an outstanding award. Shareholders’ approval of 2019 Plan amendments may be required in certain circumstances if required by applicable rules of a national securities exchange or the SEC. Unless terminated earlier by the board of directors, the 2019 Plan will expire 10 years from the date on which the 2019 Plan was adopted by the board of directors.
Following the adoption of the 2019 Plan, the 2015 and 2008 Plans were terminated.
In 2019, our Board of Directors approved awards to our executive officers under the 2019 Plan, providing our executive officers with the opportunity to receive up to 1,359,375 Class A common shares in aggregate, in four tranches.
|·||Tranche A, to vest based on time served only, over the three years commencing January 1, 2019. One third of Tranche A vested in the first quarter of 2020 and the remainder will vest in eight equal instalments over consecutive three month intervals commencing March 31, 2020.|
|·||Tranche B, vested in January 2020, once the 60 Day Volume Weighted Average Price of the Class A common shares (the “60 Day VWAP”) exceeded $8.00.|
|·||Tranche C, to vest on the business day after the 60 Day VWAP of the Class A common shares exceeds $11.00.|
|·||Tranche D, to vest on the business day after the 60 Day VWAP of the Class A common shares exceeds $14.00.|
Mr. Giouroukos, Mr. Webber, Mr. Psaropoulos and Mr. Lister were awarded 27%, 22%, 13% and 13% of the total number of Class A common shares, with Tranche A, B, C and D representing 25%, 15%, 25% and 35% respectively.
C. Board Practices
Our board of directors is divided into three classes with one class of directors being elected in each year and each class serving a three-year term. The current term of office of the Term I class of directors consisting of Mr. Lemonnier, Mr. Mannix and Mr. Pitner, expires at the annual meeting of shareholders to be held in 2021. The current term of office of the Term II class of directors, consisting of Mr. Chalkias and Mr. Giouroukos, expires at the annual meeting of shareholders to be held in 2022. The current term of office of the Term III class of directors, consisting of Mr. Gross, Mr. van Lacum and Mr. Wils, expires at the annual meeting of shareholders to be held in 2020.
Other than our Executive Chairman, none of our directors have service contracts with us or any of our subsidiaries providing for benefits upon the termination of their employment.
For information about the period during which each director and executive officer has served in such position at our company, see “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees – A. Directors and Senior Management.”
Our board of directors has determined that all directors other than Mr. Lemonnier are “independent directors” as such term is defined in Rule 10A-3 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), and the NYSE rules. Mr. Lemonnier, a senior executive of CMA CGM, our largest shareholder, was appointed as a Director in September 2017, following his nomination by CMA CGM.
Board Observer Agreement
On November 12, 2019, we entered into a Board Observer Agreement with B. Riley Financial, Inc. and B. Riley FBR which (i) amended the prior engagement letter and underwriting agreement by and between B. Riley FBR and ourselves to eliminate the right of B. Riley FBR to appoint a director to our Board of Directors; and (ii) granted a right to B. Riley Financial, Inc. to designate an observer to our Board of Directors (“Observer”), provided that B. Riley Financial, Inc. and/or its affiliates own more than 5% of the outstanding voting power of us. The Observer may attend all meetings of the board of directors and certain meetings of committees of the board of directors in a non-voting, observer capacity and may participate in discussions of the board of directors. B. Riley Financial, Inc. has designated Daniel Shribman as its representative to serve as Observer.
Our board of directors has formed an audit committee, a compensation committee, and a nominating and corporate governance committee. Our board committee charters are available on our website (www.globalshiplease.com) and in print to any investor upon request. The information included on our website is not incorporated herein by reference.
We have established an audit committee, comprised of three members of our board of directors, which, as directed by our written audit committee charter, is responsible for overseeing the management’s conduct of our systems of internal accounting and financial controls, reviewing our financial statements, recommending to the board of directors the engagement of our independent auditors, and pre-approving audit and audit-related services and fees.
The audit committee will at all times be composed exclusively of “independent directors” who, as may be required by the NYSE listing standards, are able to read and understand fundamental financial statements, including a company’s balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. Our audit committee currently consists of Messrs. Chalkias, van Lacum and Wils, each of whom is “independent” as defined in Rule 10A-3 under the Exchange Act and the NYSE rules.
In addition, the audit committee has at least one member who has past employment experience in finance or accounting, requisite professional certification in accounting, or other comparable experience or background that results in the individual’s financial sophistication. The board of directors has determined that Mr. van Lacum satisfies the NYSE’s definition of financial sophistication and also qualifies as an “audit committee financial expert,” as defined under Item 401 of Regulation S-K under the Exchange Act.
U.S. domestic issuers are required to have a compensation committee that is comprised entirely of independent directors. Although as a foreign private issuer this rule does not apply to us, we have a compensation committee. Our compensation committee consists of Messrs. Gross, Mannix and Pitner. The compensation committee is responsible for and reports to the board of directors on the evaluation and compensation of executives, oversees the administration of compensation plans, reviews and determines director and executive compensation and prepares any report on executive compensation required by the rules and regulations of the SEC.
Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee
U.S. issuers are required to have a nominating and corporate governance committee that is comprised entirely of independent directors. Although as a foreign private issuer this rule does not apply to us, we have a nominating and corporate governance committee. Our nominating and corporate governance committee consists of Messrs. Chalkias, Pitner and Wils. The nominating and corporate governance committee reports to the board of directors on and is responsible for succession planning and the appointment, development and performance evaluation of our board members and senior executives. It also assesses the adequacy and effectiveness of our corporate governance guidelines, reviewing and recommending changes to the board whenever necessary.
As of December 31, 2019, we had seven employees.
E. Share Ownership
See “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions—A. Major Shareholders” for information regarding beneficial ownership by our directors and executive officers.
See “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—B. Compensation—2019 Equity Incentive Plan” for information regarding our equity incentive plan.
|Item 7.||Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions|
A. Major Shareholders
The following table sets forth information regarding the beneficial ownership of our Class A common shares as of the date of this report by:
|·||each person known by us to be the beneficial owner of more than 5% of our outstanding common shares;|
|·||each of our officers and directors; and|
|·||all of our officers and directors as a group.|
Except as otherwise indicated, each person or entity named in the table below has sole voting and investment power with respect to all of our Class A common shares or our Series C Preferred Shares, shown as beneficially owned, subject to applicable community property laws. As of the date of this report, an aggregate of 17,556,738 Class A common shares were issued and outstanding. In addition, there were an aggregate of 250,000 Series C Preferred Shares outstanding, all held by Kelso affiliates, which convert in limited circumstances to an aggregate of 12,955,187 Class A common shares.
The Class A common shares each have one vote and vote together as a single class except that any amendment to the articles of incorporation, including those made pursuant to the terms of any merger, consolidation or similar transaction, that would increase or decrease the aggregate number of authorized common shares of a class, increase or decrease the par value of common shares of a class, or alter or change the powers, preferences or rights of the class of common shares so as to affect them adversely, must be approved by the holders of not less than a majority of the votes entitled to be cast by the holders of such class of common shares then outstanding, voting separately as a class. Each Series C Preferred Share is entitled to 38.75 votes on all matters submitted to a vote of the shareholders. The holders of Series C Preferred Shares vote together with the common shareholders as one class on all matters submitted to a vote of the shareholders.
|Name of Beneficial Owner||Class A Common Shares |
|Approximate Percentage |
of Outstanding Class A
|CMA CGM S.A.||3,051,587||(2)||17.4||%|
|B. Riley Financial, Inc.||2,089,226||(3)||11.9||%|
|Nokomis Capital, L.L.C.||1,225,000||(4)||7.0||%|
|Whitefort Capital Master Fund, LP||883,041||(6)||5.0||%|
|Michael S. Gross||1,344,094||(8)||7.7||%|
|Other Directors and Executive Officers:|
|Henry Mannix III||155,750||(9)||0.9||%|
|Menno van Lacum||13,794||0.1||%|
|Ian J. Webber||69,106||(10)||0.4||%|
|All directors and executive officers as a group (11 individuals)||3,104,878||17.7||%|
|KIA VIII (Newco Marine) Ltd.||155,750||(9)||0.9||%|
|KEP VI (Newco Marine) Ltd.||155,750||(9)||0.9||%|
|(1)||Calculated based on 17,556,738 common shares outstanding as of the date of this report.|
|(2)||This information is derived from a Schedule 13D/A filed with the SEC on October 15, 2019. CMA CGM S.A. is controlled by Merit Corporation S.A.L., which may be deemed to exercise voting and investment power over all securities of Global Ship Lease, Inc. held by CMA CGM S.A. and thus may be deemed to beneficially own such securities.|
|(3)||This information is derived from a Schedule 13G/A filed with the SEC on January 28, 2020 which stated that, as of the relevant date, BRC Partners Opportunities fund, L.P. (“BRPLP”) beneficially owned 344,827 shares of Class A common stock. BRC Partners Management GP, LLC (“BRPGP”) is the general partner of BRPLP. B. Riley Capital Management, LLC (“BRCM”) is an investment advisor to BRPLP. As a result, each of BRPGP and BRCM may be deemed to have beneficially owned the 344,827 shares of Common Stock owned directly by BRPLP. As of the relevant date, BRFBR beneficially owned 1,744,399 shares of Class A common stock.|
As of the relevant date, B. Riley Financial, Inc., as the parent company of BRCM and BRFBR may be deemed to have beneficially owned the 2,089,226 shares of Class A common stock beneficially owned in the aggregate by BRCM and BRFBR.
|(4)||This information is derived from a Schedule 13G filed with the SEC on February 14, 2020.|
|(5)||This information is derived from a Schedule 13G filed with the SEC on May 17, 2019 which included that, as of the relevant date, Maas Capital Investments B.V. was the beneficial owner of 1,036,415 Class A common shares.|
|(6)||This information is derived from a Schedule 13G filed with the SEC on March 13, 2020 which included that, as of the relevant date, Whitefort Capital Master Fund, LP was the beneficial owner of 883,041 Class A common shares. David Salanic and Joseph Kaplan, by virtue of their positions as Co-Managing Partners of Whitefort Capital Management, LP, the investment manager of Whitefort Capital Master Fund, LP, may be deemed to have voting and dispositive power with respect to the shares owned by Whitefort Capital Master Fund, LP.|
|(7)||Mr. Giouroukos, who serves as our Executive Chairman, owns and controls Shipping Participations Inc., which is the record holder of 1,473,336 Class A common shares. As a result, Mr. Giouroukos may be deemed to beneficially own the shares held by Shipping Participations Inc.|
|(8)||This information is derived from a Schedule 13D/A filed with the SEC on October 3, 2019. Michael S. Gross directly holds 566,880 shares of Class A common shares. Marathon Founders, LLC directly holds 777,214 shares of Class A common shares. As the Managing Member of Marathon Founders, LLC, Mr. Gross may be deemed to exercise voting rights and investment power over all securities of Global Ship Lease, Inc. held by Marathon Founders, LLC and thus may be deemed to beneficially own such shares.|
|(9)||This information is derived from a Schedule 13D filed with the SEC on October 4, 2019. Includes Class A common shares deemed to be beneficially owned by KIA VIII (Newco Marine) Ltd., or KIA VIII, and KEP VI (Newco Marine) Ltd., or KEP VI, by virtue of a voting agreement entered into among KEP VIII, KEP VI, CMA CGM S.A. and Michael S. Gross. KEP VI (Cayman), L.P., KEP VI (Cayman) GP Ltd., KIA VIII (International), L.P., KELSO GP VIII (Cayman) L.P., KELSO GP VIII (Cayman) Ltd., Frank T. Nickell, Thomas R. Wall, IV, George E. Matelich, Michael B. Goldberg, David I. Wahrhaftig, Frank K. Bynum, Jr., Philip E. Berney, Frank J. Loverro, James J. Connors, II, Stanley de J. Osborne, Church M. Moore, Christopher L. Collins, Anna Lynn Alexander, Howard A. Matlin, Stephen C. Dutton, Matthew S. Edgerton, and Henry Mannix III (the “Kelso Joint Filers”) may be deemed to share beneficial ownership of these Class A common shares. Each of the Kelso Joint Filers share investment and voting power with respect to any Class A common shares beneficially owned by KIA VIII and KEP VI but disclaim beneficial ownership of such Class A common shares.|
In addition, there were an aggregate of 250,000 Series C Preferred Shares outstanding, all held by Kelso affiliates, which convert in limited circumstances to an aggregate of 12,955,187 Class A common shares. Each Series C Preferred Share is entitled to 38.75 votes on all matters submitted to a vote of the shareholders. The holders of Series C Preferred Shares vote together with the common shareholders as one class on all matters submitted to a vote of the shareholders. According to information contained in public filings, KEP VI (Newco Marine) Ltd. and KIA VIII (Newco Marine) Ltd., both affiliates of Kelso & Company, a U.S. private equity firm, hereafter referred to as Kelso, controls votes representing approximately 36.1% of the vote on any matter submitted to the vote of our common shareholders, through its ownership of Series C Preferred Shares and by virtue of the voting agreement with certain other of our shareholders.
|(10)||Does not include share-based awards that were approved by the Company’s Board of Directors in 2019, which are described above under the heading “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees-B. Compensation-2019 Omnibus Incentive Plan”.|
As of March 22, 2020, we had 18 registered shareholders of record, five of which were located in the United States and held an aggregate of 11,558,621 of our Class A common shares, representing 65.8% of our outstanding common shares. However, one of the U.S. shareholders of record is Cede & Co., a nominee of The Depository Trust Company, which held 10,761,690 of our Class A common shares as of March 22, 2020. We believe that the shares held by Cede & Co. include common shares beneficially owned by both holders in the United States and non-U.S. beneficial owners.
Other than Kelso by virtue of its beneficial ownership of Series C Preferred Shares, our major shareholders, directors and executive officers do not have different voting rights.
We are not aware of any arrangements the operation of which may at a subsequent date result in our change of control.
B. Related Party Transactions
Registration Rights Agreement
At the time of the Marathon Merger, we entered into a registration rights agreement with CMA CGM, Marathon Investors, LLC, Marathon Founders, LLC and the other initial shareholders of Marathon common stock (including Michael S. Gross), pursuant to which we agreed to register for resale on a registration statement under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and applicable state securities laws, the common shares issued to such shareholders pursuant to the Marathon Merger or upon exercise of warrants (the “Marathon Registration Rights Agreement”).
On October 29, 2018, we entered into an Amended and Restated Registration Rights Agreement (the “Amended and Restated Registration Rights Agreement”), which amended and restated the Marathon Registration Rights Agreement, with KEP VI, KIA VIII, CMA CGM, Management Investor Co., Anmani Consulting Inc., Marathon Founders, LLC, Michael S. Gross and Maas Capital Investments B.V. with respect to all Class A common shares and Series C Preferred Shares held by such shareholders on the closing date of the Poseidon Transaction, including any Class A common shares issuable on conversion of Series C Preferred Shares. The Amended and Restated Registration Rights Agreement became effective on the closing of the Poseidon Transaction. Pursuant to the Amended and Restated Registration Rights Agreement, we will, on or before the date that is six months after the closing of the Poseidon Transaction, file with the SEC a shelf registration statement to register the offer and resale of all securities covered by the Amended and Restated Registration Rights Agreement. The Amended and Restated Registration Rights Agreement provides certain piggyback and demand registration rights. The Amended and Restated Registration Rights Agreement also provides that the shareholders party to it will not transfer any shares covered by the agreement for a period of six months following the closing of the Poseidon Transaction (with certain exceptions) and contains customary indemnification and other provisions.
On October 29, 2018, we entered into a Letter Agreement with affiliates of Kelso, CMA CGM, Marathon Founders, LLC and Michael S. Gross. The Letter Agreement became effective on the closing of the Poseidon Transaction.
Pursuant to the Letter Agreement, (a) for so long as CMA CGM holds at least 5% of our voting power, CMA CGM has the right to designate (and Kelso has the obligation to vote in favor of) an individual nominee to serve on our Board of Directors (and such nominee will also have a right to serve on the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors), (b) for so long as CMA CGM holds at least 10% of our voting power, CMA CGM has the right to designate (and Kelso has the obligation to vote in favor of) two individuals to serve on the Board of Directors and (c) CMA CGM designated Philippe Lemonnier and Alain Wils as the two individuals to serve on the Board of Directors.
The Letter Agreement also contains certain participation and tag-along rights. For example, each of Kelso and CMA CGM has the right to purchase a pro rata portion of any new issuance of securities by us (other than certain exempt issuances) for so long as it holds at least 10% of our voting power. Additionally, each of CMA CGM, Marathon Founders, LLC and Mr. Gross have the right to transfer Class A common shares pro rata alongside Kelso in any transfer or series of related transfers by Kelso to a third party that would result in the third party acquiring more than 30% of our voting power (with the exception of certain exempt transfers).
The Letter Agreement also provides that, for so long as CMA CGM holds at least 5% of our voting power, we may not make any material change in the nature of our business without the unanimous consent of the Board of Directors.
On October 29, 2018, we entered into a Non-Compete Agreement with Mr. George Giouroukos and Conchart reflecting, among others, the provisions described below. The Non-Compete Agreement became effective on the closing of the Poseidon Transaction.
For so long as Mr. Giouroukos is our Executive Chairman, Mr. Giouroukos and any entity which he controls will agree not to acquire, own or operate containerships. However, under certain exceptions, Mr. Giouroukos, and any entity which he controls, may compete with us, which could affect our business. Specifically, Mr. Giouroukos, and any entity which he controls, will not be prevented from:
|(1)||acquiring, owning, operating or chartering vessels other than containerships;|
|(2)||acquiring or owning one or more containerships if we decide not to exercise our right of first refusal to acquire such containership, in accordance with the terms of the Non-Compete Agreement described below under “Right of First Refusal”;|