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Does the Sale of Three Hanjin Vessels Mean No Bankruptcy Bailout?

On Tuesday it looked like Hanjin Shipping would not be getting the lifeline it was hoping for from the South Korean Government to help it press on, but on Wednesday the country’s bankruptcy court said the shipper could have more time to outline a rehabilitation plan.

Three of the bankrupt shipper’s ships have been sold, which isn’t often an indication that a bailout is forthcoming, and analysts have said the shipper is likely headed for liquidation and not restructuring.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Japan’s Kumiai Senpaku, which owns Hanjin Matsuyama is selling the 16,000-ton cargo capacity vessel to a Chinese buyer for $23 million because Hanjin hasn’t made its charter payments since early in the summer.

Two different Greek owners took the other Hanjin ships, Liverpool and Isabel, for roughly $8 million each.

Hanjin, its charterers and stakeholders had been holding out hope that the South Korean government would throw some much needed money Hanjin’s way to keep the company from going belly up, though such aid has, up to now, grown increasingly unlikely.

In what was quite a clear message that it wouldn’t be dishing out bailout dollars, the president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, said at a cabinet meeting in the country Tuesday, according to the Journal, “Lazy thinking that the government will have no choice but to help shipping companies if they run into problems has ended up hurting trading companies.”

She added, “We will not sit silently by as corporate managements, who do not aggressively try to recover their businesses, wait for the government to solve everything.”

The extended deadline for Hanjin to submit a plan that will determine whether it meets its end or can remain in business, could give the company enough time to devise a better way forward than the one financial backers at the Korean Development Bank rejected, leading Hanjin to file for bankruptcy.

As of now, according to the Journal, Hanjin’s deadline for the rehabilitation plan has been moved back from Nov. 11 to an expected Dec. 23 date.