service vessel

WFW completes one-day reflagging of 27 vessel fleet

15 December 2015

Watson Farley & Williams (“WFW”) has once again demonstrated itself as the leading legal advisor in the maritime sector, after advising on the multi-jurisdictional re-registering and re-flagging of a 27 vessel fleet in just one day.

As advisor to the mandated lead arranger lenders, WFW advised Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. (“KKR”) and York Capital as maritime counsel on the deal, while Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP served as primary international counsel. The deal was part of the wider restructuring of chemical tanker owner and operator Berlian Laju Tanker, which saw its “Chembulk Tankers” vessels spun out into an independent and autonomous entity as part of a debt for equity exchange.

With WFW’s assistance and in close coordination with the Marshall Islands registry, the 27 vessel fleet was re-registered under the new owner and re-flagged under the Marshall Islands flag. WFW’s Singapore office assisted with deletion of 24 of the vessels from the Singapore Flag, and the firm’s Hong Kong office assisted with the deletion of three vessels from the Hong Kong flag. The WFW team’s deep sector knowledge, technical expertise and organisation across multiple jurisdictions meant it was able to complete this process in just one day. WFW also assisted with creation of the new corporate structure and with coordinating the transfer of employees from multiple jurisdictions, including in Singapore.

The multi-jurisdictional WFW team was led by New York Asset Finance Partner John Benson, with Corporate Partner Steven Hollander, Associate Daniel Berger and Paralegal Gregory Pastore, London Litigation Senior Associate James Spencer, Asia Practice Asset Finance Partners Jonathan Tan, Aaron Kok and Chien Herr Lee, Associates Daniel Zhu and Zhi-Jun Loh and WFW Asia Practice Corporate Associate Mark Jalen Tan in Singapore, and Asset Finance Senior Associate Valerie Lee in Hong Kong.

Partner John Benson said: “To be able to pull off the re-registering and re-flagging of all 27 of the vessels transferred into the new Chembulk Tankers business is a testament to the expertise, commitment and professionalism of the WFW team worldwide. To complete all the transfers in one day is was a significant logistical and technical challenge requiring deep planning and military-like precision from all involved.”