Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Malaysian Merchant Marine Bhd remains guarded

Malaysian Merchant Marine Bhd (MMM) is cautiously optimistic on the outlook of the shipping industry next year and is carefully planning its business strategies in line with the industry’s cycle.

Executive deputy chairman Datuk Ramesh Rajaratnam told StarBiz that MMM’s core business of shipping would remain but due to the severe slump in the shipping industry in all segments, the management was continually reviewing its strategies.

“All ship acquisition and disposal endeavours are being critically examined. We currently own three vessels but one vessel is pending completion of sale,” he said.

Previously, MMM entered into an agreement with Oceanic Shipping to operate four new 9,000 deadweight tonne (dwt) double-hulled tankers under a bare boat charter with a conditional option to purchase.

Datuk Ramesh Rajaratnam...'There is some renewed interest in the liquid cargo segment.'

The vessels, supposed to be staggeredly delivered this year, are valued at about RM280mil.

But the deliveries were interrupted due to the earthquake in Sichuan, China last year.

Ramesh sees 2010 to be marginally better but only after June as the impact from stimulus packages worldwide had yet to significantly lift trade volumes.

“However, there is some renewed interest in the liquid cargo segment in this industry, and we are a player in this segment,” he said.

On the continuation of the company’s turnaround plan, Ramesh said the current business environment was very challenging and the management was maximising returns on existing assets.

In its previous financial year ended March 31, MMM was in the black, albeit with a net profit of only RM153,000.

Its 2009 financial year was over a 19-month period which started from Sept 1, 2007 as the company had changed its financial year-end from Aug 31 to March 31.

But in its fiscal 2010 first quarter ended June 30, MMM was back in the red with a net loss of almost RM6mil.

Commenting on MMM’s interest in a 20% stake in the Tindalo Oilfield Development Project in the Philippines, Ramesh said it should be noted that this was only an expression of interest, with no agreement on definitive terms by any party.

“The field is wide open for other bidders. The financing of this venture, if we proceed, is still subject to negotiations. At present, MMM has expressed interest to participate and that’s the extent of our interest,” he said.

Source: StarBiz

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