Date
25 May 2017
Hanjin’s bankruptcy filing has prompted doubts among port operators about the South Korean firm’s ability to pay for the unloading of its container ships. Photo: Bloomberg
Hanjin’s bankruptcy filing has prompted doubts among port operators about the South Korean firm’s ability to pay for the unloading of its container ships. Photo: Bloomberg

Hanjin woes leave cargo worth billions stranded at sea

The financial and legal woes of Hanjin Shipping, which filed for bankruptcy last week, have left as much as US$14 billion worth of cargo stranded at sea, the Wall Street Journal reports.

As several container ships of the South Korean firm have been denied access to ports around the world, cargo owners are scrambling to try to recover their goods and get them to customers, the paper said.

Samsung Electronics is among those affected. The Korean electronics giant has US$38 million worth of cargo stranded on Hanjin ships in international waters, according to the report.

“We’re passengers on a bus, and we’re being told we can’t get off,” a lawyer for Samsung was quoted as saying Tuesday.

The tech giant is considering chartering 16 cargo planes to fulfill its shipment contracts, principally to the United States.

Since Hanjin, which is South Korea’s largest shipping line, filed for bankruptcy protection, dozens of ships carrying more than half a million containers have been denied access to ports around the world.

Some vessels, meanwhile, were seized by creditors.

Though the firm has been granted protection by bankruptcy courts in Korea and the US, “it’s bordering chaos”, Lars Jensen, CEO of SeaIntel Consulting in Copenhagen, told the Journal.

“With so many Hanjin ships barred from entering ports, shippers have no idea when their cargo will be unloaded.”

The courts’ protection permits Hanjin ships to move in and out of terminals in those countries without fear of its assets being seized by creditors.

But shippers and brokers say the rulings don’t solve the problem as it is unclear if Hanjin will be able to afford to have the ships unloaded once the vessels are docked.

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RC

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