From The Journal of Commerce
German container shipowners, who control a third of the world box ship fleet, are facing increasing financial difficulties and the threat of bankruptcy as charter rates test fresh lows with the end of the peak shipping season.
Seventy percent of laid-up charter vessels are owned by Germans, led by Claus Peter Offen, which has laid up 17 vessels of 37,700 20-foot equivalent units, according to Alphaliner, the Paris-based consultancy.
Around 10.7 percent of the world container fleet is currently laid-up with the majority owned by charter owners as ocean carriers are returning leased tonnage when hire periods expire in order to keep their own vessels employed amid sharply lower cargo volumes.
The depth of the crisis was highlighted by confirmation that Peter Döhle Schiffahrts, one of the world's largest charter shipowners, has applied for loans from a government fund set up to help companies survive the global economic downturn.
Claus Peter Offen also is reported to have applied to the fund for up to $150 million.