PB Tankers applied for an arrangement with creditors
The company, whose ships are blocked due to the penalties imposed by the U.S., submitted the related application to the bankruptcy section of the Court of Rome
Following the temporary permit to operate granted to FSO Alba Marina, it is still not clear whether the OFAC is thinking about giving the green light also to the oil/chemical tankers Silver Point, Gold Point, Ice Point, Indian Point and Iron Point.
A few months ago, the ships belonging to the Italian company PB Tankers were subject to the sanctions imposed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department for having transported oil products between Venezuela and Cuba. Besides the five units, also the Floating Storage Offloading Alba Marina had been included in the blacklist of Trump’s administration. However, since it belongs to Edison E&P and since it does not carry out transport activities, FSO Alba Marina was recently allowed to resume its activities in the Rospo offshore platform in the Adriatic sea (while the five tankers only obtained temporary licences merely for management and maintenance purposes).
As a matter of fact, due to the blocking of these 5 ships, the company is having problems with its creditors, and this caused its Board of Directors to submit an application for arrangement “with reserve” to the Court of Rome – bankruptcy section (as per art. 161 of the Bankruptcy Law). The Court admitted the application, granting the company 120 days to submit its final application for voluntary arrangement, including a debt restructuring plan with all the related documentation. The decree of the Court of Rome refers also to a pending bankruptcy petition, about which the company’s lawyers declared that “the Court of Rome – since the company is not subject to pending proceedings for a declaration of bankruptcy – granted PBT 120 days to submit the arrangement plan in order to restructure its debt position and to re-balance its economic and financial position”. The order signed by judge Antonino La Malfa also appoints lawyer Luigi Amerigo Bottai and accountant Roberto Falcone as administrative receivers, who will be responsible for supervising corporate activities until the expiration of the 120 days.
As specified in the appeal submitted by PB Tankers, the American penalties made the company’s difficult situation worse.
In fact, the document points out that in April 2017 the company started “negotiations to reorganize its debt exposure” with Unicredit, Intesa Sanpaolo, Banco Popolare and Banca Nuova, entrusting the law firm Gianni, Origoni, Grippo Cappelli and Partners with the negotiation of a restructuring agreement with said credit institutions. Meanwhile, with the help of Ernest&Young, PB Tankers had drawn up a business and financial plan, which was approved by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ auditors in September 2018.
“After that”, E&Y’s document continues, “it informed the company that Intesa Sanpaolo Spa and SGA Spa (which meanwhile replaced Banca Nuova as credit owner, ed.) had resolved to enter into the restructuring agreement and that, based on the existing negotiations, Unicredit Spa and Banco Popolare Spa were likely to make a similar resolution shortly”.
After that, the company was included in the American blacklist due to the charter agreement entered into with the Cuban company Cubametales in August 2017 (for 12 months and extended for another 12) to transport oil products worldwide with the ship Silver Point, which the company used only for services between Venezuela and Cuba.
The document also refers to the checks required by PB Tankers to two international law firms following the inclusion – in January 2019 – of the state producer Petroleos de Venezuala in the U.S. blacklist, with regard to the possibility to terminate the agreement. The law firms explained that the termination would have implied a “significant claim for damages”, adding that it was very unlikely and improbable that the American measure would be applied to non-U.S. subjects.
In fact, the unlikely event became reality, and it had serious consequences because, besides the prohibition for U.S. subjects to have commercial relations with the company, also all the receipts and payments in its favour made in dollars through American financial intermediaries were blocked.
The inclusion in the SDN List (Specially Designated Nationals And Blocked Persons List) caused the termination of the existing charter agreements, and it prevented the conclusion of new charter agreements, with a consequent reduction of cash inflows.
According to PB Tankers, this prevents the implementation of the plan drawn up with E&Y, on which the restructuring agreement was based, thus causing the company to apply for a voluntary arrangement. The appeal lodged with the Court of Rome also points out that PB Tankers currently has a debt exposure of some 100 million euro, 89 of which with credit institutions.
Said document was drawn up on June the 5th 2019, while on May the 31st PB Tankers’ shareholders’ meeting approved the financial statement for the year 2017, which recorded losses amounting to some 15 million euro.