Seaspan adds six ships to container cargo fleet in US$380 million deal

Vancouver-based company, the world’s largest charter owner and manager of container ships, will have a container cargo capacity of close to one million TEUs once acquisition is closed

Seaspan’s 13,000-TEU COSCO Excellence, which is chartered to China’s COSCO Shipping Lines | Submitted

The world’s largest charter owner and manager of container ships keeps getting larger.

Vancouver-based Seaspan Corp. (NYSE:SSW) announced today (November 14) that it has agreed to buy a fleet of six containerships for approximately US$380 million in cash.

The deal, which will be financed via borrowings and cash on hand, is expected to close in December.

The acquisition will increase Seaspan’s container cargo fleet to 119 ships. Its capacity will be approximately one million 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) and give it a 7.7% share in a global container cargo fleet that shipping data company Alphaliner estimates now has a capacity exceeding 23 million TEUs.

Bing Chen, Seaspan’s president and CEO, dubbed the deal a “win-win outcome for one of our key financing partners, a key customer and for Seaspan … and [will] further cement Seaspan's position as the leading global independent charter owner and operator of containerships.” 

Seaspan’s fleet has grown consistently from the 10 ships it had at its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in August 2005.

Its customers include Hapag-Lloyd (ETR:HLAG), Maersk (CPH:-MAERSK-B), Yang Ming (TPE:2609) and other top international container shipping lines.

Chen telegraphed the six-ship purchase during Seaspan’s November 7 third-quarter earnings conference call when he noted that the company had closed a US$500 million “accordion to our portfolio financing program, increasing the financing to $1.5 billion.”

He added that the company planned to continue to expand its fleet.

“We see increasing attractive opportunities among our network of partners and remain very focused on fleet growth at the right price.”

Seaspan’s Executive Vice-President and Chief Commercial and Technical Officer, Peter Curtis, noted during the conference call that the current marketplace, with its pockets of decreased asset values, provided Seaspan with acquisition opportunities.

Seaspan reported net earnings of US$43 million on revenue of $282.7 million for the quarter ending September 30.

Ryan Courson, Seaspan’s Chief Financial Officer, said the 4% drop in revenue from 2018’s third quarter resulted in part from lower containership lease rates.

Seaspan’s nine-month revenue was up 5% to US$844 million.