Thursday, June 10, 2010

Moody's Investors Service put General Maritime Corp. (GMR) on watch for possible downgrade[crude-oil tanker company]

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Moody's Investors Service put General Maritime Corp. (GMR) on watch for possible downgrade a day after the crude-oil tanker company announced it would acquire seven ships for about $620 million. The ratings agency has General Maritime at B1, four steps into junk territory. Moody's noted Thursday the planned purchase is subject to the company getting bank loans amended in order to accommodate the new debt from the deal. Moody's added the deal's financing conditions include an equity issuance and most must be completed by June 24. Although it believes "that the expansion of the fleet...could strengthen GenMar's business profile over time," analyst Jonathan Root added, "Operating risk and credit risk will increase in the near term." As such, Moody's is to review the company's capital structure and other items with the impact of the financing pressure as part of the ratings study. The purchase, if successful, will bring General Maritime's fleet size to 38 tankers capable of carrying six million deadweight tons. The shipper swung to loss in its latest quarter as voyage expenses surged. Standard & Poor's Ratings Services recently downgraded it by a notch to four levels into junk territory, equal to Moody's current rating. Shares of General Maritime built on Wednesday's 8% advance, recently trading up 5% at $7.31. The stock has fallen 28% the past year. -By Jodi Xu, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-3037;;

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