Chiquita Brands International Inc has signed definitive agreements to sell its 12 refrigerated cargo vessels for $227 million. The ships will be chartered back from an alliance formed by Eastwind Maritime Inc. and NYKLauritzenCool AB. The parties also entered a long-term strategic agreement in which the alliance will serve as Chiquita's preferred supplier in ocean shipping to and from Europe and North America.
As part of the transaction, Chiquita will lease back 11 of the vessels for a period of seven years, with options for up to another five years, and one vessel for a period of three years, with options for up to another two years. The vessels to be sold consist of eight reefer ships and four container ships, which collectively transport about 70 percent of Chiquita's banana volume shipped to core markets in Europe and North America. The agreements also provide for the alliance to service the rest of Chiquita's core ocean shipping needs for North America and Europe, including through multiyear time charters beginning in 2008 for seven more reefer vessels.
The parties expect to complete the transaction within 45 days.