Saturday, April 4, 2015

The NYFEX Report: Dryships Sells Its Suezmax & Aframax Fleets

Last January Dryships Inc. (DRYS) filed an IPO registration statement with the SEC to spin-off its tanker fleet into a separate publicly traded company. Yesterday Dryships completely reversed course and announced instead the sale of its tanker fleet to entities related to CEO George Economou. It also formally withdrew its registration statement.

What prompted such stunning reversal is anyone’s guess, particularly since the transaction is between related-parties. It has been the worst kept secret on Wall Street that publicly traded shipping companies are rife with related-party transactions. I find such transactions an anathema to proper corporate governance. It is true that related-party transactions must be disclosed and executed at arm’s length. But company insiders always get to choose when to do them, and in shipping timing is key to financial success.

Allegations aside, is this a good deal to shareholders or not? In this article I will analyze the transaction from an arm’s length, cash flow and earnings point of view.

The company’s tanker fleet consists of four suezmax tankers with an average age of 2.9 years, and six aframax tankers with an average age of 3.2 years. The suezxmax tankers were sold en-bloc for $245 million, or an average price of $61.25 million per vessel.

The aframax tankers were also sold en-bloc for $291 million but on a contingent basis. By allowing the buyers to confirm the agreement by June 30th, 2015, Dryships effectively wrote a three-month call option at an average strike price of $48.5 million per vessel.

Dryships has been in dire financial straits for some time now. If both deals are consummated, they will provide the company with much needed free cash to the tune of $275 million, all in a relatively short amount of time. Yes, the originally proposed IPO would have alleviated any red flags from related-party transactions. It might have even achieved a better return for shareholders if the company had waited for the right timing. But I am afraid that Dryships does not have the luxury of time on its side. For this reason alone it might be better to deal with the devil you know than the devil you don’t. 

Continue reading the full article published on Seeking Alpha


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