Maritime debt collection

“Demand for debt collection services has never been stronger…”

This new [business opportunity] piece caught my eye in the latest Maritime Advocate…

A new company, SeaDebt Management, has been established in the City of London to provide debt collection services on a global basis. Backed by a group of City investors, SeaDebt is managed by a team of specialists under the direction of Paul Johnston, who was formerly with the International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC). The SeaDebt team has over 25 years’ experience in providing maritime-related debt collection services.

      Demand for debt collection services has never been stronger, explains            Mr Johnston:
      “In a global business such as shipping, securing payment for goods            or services can often be difficult, especially when the debtor has little            in the way of assets or can’t be pursued cost-effectively through            normal litigation. In today’s economic environment, when so many            companies are struggling to stay in business, the problems associated            with non-payment of debt inevitably increase.”
      In the first few weeks of operation, solely through personal contacts            and its fast-growing network of P&I club correspondents and lawyers            around the world, SeaDebt has received a significant number of enquiries            from companies as far afield as India, Brazil and Turkey. It is already            in the process of collecting debts on behalf of companies working in            a wide range of business sectors including bunker supply and tank container            operations.
      According to Mr Johnston, the case of the tank container operator highlights            the problems many people have in securing payment:
      “This client hired out a tank container to a freight forwarder            that has little in the way of assets. This is of course is quite typical.            Many forwarders operate out of rented offices with just a handful of            staff yet can be handling substantial sums of money.
      “Even if the tank container can be recovered, the associated expenses            may be high especially if there is a need for repositioning, cleaning            and repair before it can be used again.
      “In this particular case, we are optimistic about being able to            recover the hire costs and of obtaining a contribution towards expenses.”            
      Two other cases involve South American ship suppliers who are chasing            owners for non-payment. Another involves an Indian bunker trader, which            is owed around $142,000 for bunkers ordered by a charterer. In such            instances, SeaDebt will sometimes seek to arrest vessels if the charterers/owners            continue to ignore requests for payment.
      The supply of bunkers is a particularly risky business and one that            is likely to be a source of much new business, says Mr Johnston:
      “Many shipowners are experiencing major cashflow problems at the            moment and as has been widely reported, some very well-known names are            amongst them. It is hardly surprising that some bunker suppliers are            demanding pre-payment before delivery. However, in a competitive business,            this is not an option that is available to all and inevitably some bills            will go unpaid until the owners concerned are faced with the reality            of a ship arrest or whatever else it takes to secure payment.”
      For those companies experiencing problems getting paid, Paul Johnston            can be contacted at:
      SeaDebt Management
      68 Lombard Street
      EC3V 9LJ
      United Kingdom
      Tel: + 44 (0)20 7868 1890
      Fax: + 44 (0)20 7868 1800
      Mobile: + 44 (0)7905 273586