10-K 1 egle20141231_10k.htm FORM 10-K egle20141231_10k.htm

 

UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 


 

FORM 10-K

 

           ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF

THE 

SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2014

 

OR

 

          TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF

THE

SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the transition period from                   to

 


 

Commission File Number 001-33831

 

EAGLE BULK SHIPPING INC.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Republic of the Marshall Islands

98–0453513

(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)

 

 

477 Madison Avenue

 

New York, New York

10022

(Address of principal executive offices)

(Zip Code)

 

Registrant's telephone number, including area code: (212) 785–2500

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Common Stock, par value $.01 per share

(Title of Class)

 

The Common Stock is registered on the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

(Name of exchange on which registered)

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes No

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes No

 

 
 

 

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.  Yes No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes No

 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant's knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer", "accelerated filer" and "smaller reporting company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.  (Check one):

 

Large accelerated filer

Accelerated filer

Non-Accelerated filer

Smaller reporting company

 

(Do not check if a smaller reporting company)

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes No

 

The aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant on June 30, 2014, the last business day of the registrant's most recently completed second quarter, was $51,377,290 based on the closing price of $3.09 per share on the Nasdaq Global Select Market on that date. (For this purpose, all outstanding shares of common stock have been considered held by non-affiliates, other than the shares beneficially owned by directors, officers and certain 5% shareholders of the registrant; without conceding that any of the excluded parties are "affiliates" of the registrant for purposes of the federal securities laws.)

 

As of March 31, 2015, 37,639,352 shares of the registrant's common stock were outstanding.

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Section 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court. Yes No

 

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

 

Portions of the registrant's definitive proxy statement to be filed by the registrant within 120 days of December 31, 2014, the last day of the registrant’s fiscal year, in connection with its 2014 Annual Meeting of Shareholders are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K.

 

 
 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

Page

 

 

 

PART I

 

 

Item 1.

Business

4

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

30

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

48

Item 2.

Properties

48

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

48

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosure

48

PART II

 

49

Item 5.

Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases  of Equity Securities

49

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

50

Item 7.

Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operation

51

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk

70

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

71

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

71

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

71

Item 9B.

Other Information

71

PART III

 

72

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

72

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

72

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

72

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

72

Item 14.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

72

PART IV

 

73

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

 73

 

Signatures

75

 

Forward-Looking Statements

 

This Annual Report on Form 10-K (“Form 10-K”) contains forward-looking statements regarding the outlook for dry cargo markets, and the Company's prospects. There are a number of factors, risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ from the expectations reflected in these forward-looking statements, including changes in production of or demand for major and minor bulk commodities, either globally or in particular regions; greater than anticipated levels of vessel newbuilding orders or less than anticipated rates of scrapping of older vessels; changes in trading patterns for particular commodities significantly impacting overall tonnage requirements; changes in the rates of growth of the world and various regional economies; risks incident to vessel operation, including discharge of pollutants; unanticipated changes in laws and regulations; increases in costs of operation; the availability to the Company of suitable vessels for acquisition or chartering-in on terms it deems favorable; the ability to attract and retain customers; and the performance of our contract counterparties. This Form 10-K also includes statistical data regarding world dry bulk fleet and orderbook and fleet age. We derived some of these data internally, and some were obtained from independent industry publications and reports that we believe to be reliable sources. We have not independently verified these data nor sought the consent of any organizations to refer to their reports in this Form 10-K. The Company assumes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements in this Form 10-K and written and oral forward-looking statements attributable to the Company or its representatives after the date of this Form 10-K are qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements contained in this paragraph and in other reports hereafter filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”).

 

 
3

 

 

 

PART I

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

 

Overview

 

Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc., incorporated under the laws of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (the "Marshall Islands") on March 23, 2005 and headquartered in New York City, is engaged primarily in the ocean transportation of a broad range of major and minor bulk cargoes, including iron ore, coal, grain, cement and fertilizer, along worldwide shipping routes. We operate in the Handymax sector of the dry bulk industry, with particular emphasis on the Supramax class of vessels. We own one of the largest fleets of Supramax dry bulk vessels in the world. Supramax dry bulk vessels range in size from 50,000 to 60,000 deadweight tons, or dwt. These vessels have the cargo loading and unloading flexibility of on-board cranes while offering cargo carrying capacities approaching that of Panamax dry bulk vessels, which range in size from 60,000 to 100,000 dwt and must rely on port facilities to load and offload their cargoes. We believe that the cargo handling flexibility and cargo carrying capacity of the Supramax class vessels make them attractive to charterers.

 

As of December 31, 2014, we owned and operated a modern fleet of 45 oceangoing vessels, 43 Supramax and 2 Handymax, with a combined carrying capacity of 2,451,259 dwt and an average age of approximately 7.6 years.

 

Bankruptcy Reorganization

 

On August 6, 2014, the Company entered into a restructuring support agreement (the “Restructuring Support Agreement”) with lenders constituting the “Majority Lenders” (as such term is defined in the Fourth Amended and Restated Credit Agreement of the Company, dated as of October 19, 2007 (as amended, the Credit Agreement) under its Credit Agreement (the “Consenting Lenders”), which contemplated a plan of reorganization through a balance sheet restructuring of the Company’s obligations upon the terms specified therein. On the same day, the Company filed a voluntary prepackaged case (the “Prepackaged Case”) under chapter 11 of title 11 of the United States Code (the “Bankruptcy Code”) in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York (the “Court”). The Prepackaged Case was filed only in respect of the parent company, Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc., but not any of its subsidiaries. Through the Prepackaged Case, the Company sought to implement a balance sheet restructuring pursuant to the terms of its prepackaged plan of reorganization filed with the Court (the “Plan”). The Company continued to operate its business as a “debtor in possession” under the jurisdiction of the Court and in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Bankruptcy Code and orders of the Court.

  

The commencement of the Prepackaged Case constituted an event of default that accelerated the Company’s obligations under the Credit Agreement, subject to an automatic stay of any action to collect, assert or recover a claim against the Company and the application of the applicable provisions of the Bankruptcy Code.

 

As part of the Prepackaged Case, the Company obtained debtor-in-possession financing (the “DIP Loan Facility”), as further described below, pursuant to authorization from the Court. The Company funded its ongoing operations during the pendency of the Prepackaged Case through available borrowings under the DIP Loan Facility as well as cash generated from operations.

 

Subsequent to the filing of the Prepackaged Case, the Company received approval from the Court to continue using its existing cash management system and to pay or otherwise honor certain pre-petition obligations generally designed to stabilize the Company’s operations, such as certain employee wages, salaries and benefits, certain taxes and fees, customer obligations, obligations to logistics providers and pre-petition amounts owed to certain critical vendors. The Company continued to honor payments to vendors and other providers in the ordinary course of business for goods and services received after the filing date of the Prepackaged Case. The Company retained legal and financial professionals to advise the Company in connection with the Prepackaged Case and certain other professionals to provide services and advice in the ordinary course of business.

 

On September 22, 2014, the Court entered an order (the “Confirmation Order”) confirming the Plan. On October 15, 2014 (the “Effective Date”), the Company completed its balance sheet restructuring and emerged from Chapter 11 through a series of transactions contemplated by the Plan, and the Plan became effective pursuant to its terms.

 

 
4

 

 

Key components of the Plan included:

 

 

Entry into a new senior secured credit facility (the “Exit Financing Facility”) as of October 9, 2014, in the amount of $275 million (inclusive of a $50 million undrawn revolving credit facility).

 

The cancellation of all outstanding equity interests in the Company as of the Effective Date, with the current holders of such equity interests (other than the Consenting Lenders on account of certain warrants held by them or shares of common stock received upon conversion of such warrants) receiving (i) shares of the reorganized Company’s Common Stock (“New Eagle Common Stock”) equal to 0.5% of the total number of shares of New Eagle Common Stock issued and outstanding on the Effective Date (subject to dilution by the New Eagle Equity Warrants (as defined below) and the Management Incentive Program (as defined below)), and (ii) an aggregate of 3,040,540 New Eagle Equity Warrants. Each New Eagle Equity Warrant will have a 7-year term (commencing on the Effective Date) and will be exercisable for one share of New Eagle Common Stock (subject to adjustment as set forth in the New Eagle Equity Warrant Agreement and dilution by the Management Incentive Program).

 

The extinguishment of all loans and other obligations under the Credit Agreement as of the Effective Date, with the current holders thereof receiving (i) shares of New Eagle Common Stock equal to 99.5% of the total number of shares of New Eagle Common Stock issued and outstanding on the Effective Date, subject to dilution by the New Eagle Equity Warrants and the Management Incentive Program, and (ii) a cash distribution as contemplated by the Plan. On the Effective Date, the Credit Agreement was terminated, and the liens and mortgages thereunder were released.

 

All claims of unsecured creditors of Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. were unaffected and will be paid in full in the ordinary course.

 

The establishment of a Management Incentive Program (the “Management Incentive Program”) that provides senior management and certain other employees of the reorganized Company with 2% of the New Eagle Common Stock (on a fully diluted basis) on the Effective Date, and two tiers of options to acquire 5.5% of the New Eagle Common Stock (on a fully diluted basis) with different strike prices based on the equity value for the reorganized Company and a premium to the equity value, each of the foregoing to vest generally over a four year schedule through 25% annual installments commencing on the first anniversary of the Effective Date. The Management Incentive Program also provides for the reservation of certain additional shares for future issuance thereunder, as further described in the Plan.

 

The Plan also provided for certain releases of various parties by certain holders of claims against and equity interests in the Company

 

Exit Financing Facility

 

On October 9, 2014, Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc., as borrower, and certain of its subsidiaries, as guarantors, entered into the Exit Financing Facility with certain lenders (the “Exit Lenders”). The Exit Financing Facility is in the amount of $275 million, including a $50 million undrawn revolving credit facility, and matures on October 15, 2019. A fee of $5.5 million was paid to the lenders in connection with the Exit Financing Facility. Amounts drawn under the Exit Financing Facility bear interest at a rate of LIBOR plus a margin ranging between 3.50% and 4.00% per annum (“the Margin”). The revolving credit facility is subject to an annual commitment fee of 40% of the margin. The Exit Financing Facility is described further in Note 8 below.

 

Registration Rights Agreement

 

On the Effective Date, and in accordance with the Plan, the Company entered into the Registration Rights Agreement with certain parties that received shares of New Eagle Common Stock under the Plan. The Registration Rights Agreement provided such parties with demand and piggyback registration rights.

 

New Eagle Equity Warrant Agreement

 

On the Effective Date, and in accordance with the Plan, the Company issued new equity warrants (the “New Eagle Equity Warrants”) pursuant to the terms of the New Eagle Equity Warrant Agreement (the “New Eagle Equity Warrant Agreement”). Each New Eagle Equity Warrant has a 7-year term (commencing on the Effective Date) and is exercisable for one share of New Eagle Common Stock (subject to adjustment as set forth in the New Eagle Equity Warrant Agreement and dilution by the Management Incentive Program). The New Eagle Equity Warrants are exercisable at an exercise price of $27.82 per share (subject to adjustment as set forth in the New Eagle Equity Warrant Agreement). The New Eagle Equity Warrant Agreement contains customary anti-dilution adjustments in the event of any stock split, reverse stock split, stock dividend, reclassification, dividend or other distributions (including, but not limited to, cash dividends), or business combination transaction. 

 

 
5

 

 

Available Information 

 

We carry out the commercial and strategic management of our fleet through our wholly-owned subsidiary, Eagle Shipping International (USA) LLC, a Marshall Islands limited liability company which maintains its principal executive offices in New York City. Each of our vessels is owned by us through a separate wholly owned Marshall Islands limited liability company. 

 

We maintain our principal executive offices at 477 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10022. Our telephone number at that address is (212) 785-2500. Our website address is www.eagleships.com. Information contained on our website does not constitute part of this Annual Report.

 

A glossary of shipping terms (the “Glossary”) that should be used as a reference when reading this Form 10-K begins on page 28. 

 

References in this Annual report to “we,” “us,” “our,” “Eagle Bulk” and the “Company” all refer to Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. and its subsidiaries, unless otherwise stated or the context otherwise requires. References to “Predecessor” refer to the Company between the period January 1, 2014 and October 15th 2014. References to “Successor” refer to the Company between the period October 16th, 2014 and December 31st, 2014.

 

Management of Our Fleet

 

Our New York City-based management team primarily focuses on the sub-Panamax dry bulk sectors, such as Supramax, Handymax and Handysize vessels, undertakes all commercial and strategic management of our fleet and supervises the technical management of our vessels. The technical management of our fleet is provided internally and by an unaffiliated third party technical manager, V.Ships Limited, which is one of the world's largest providers of independent ship management and related services. We have established in-house technical management capability, through which we provide technical management services to a majority of our vessels, in addition to establishing a vessel management bench-mark with unaffiliated external technical manager. The management of our fleet includes the following functions:

 

 

Strategic management. We locate, obtain financing for and purchase and sell, vessels.

 

 

Commercial management. We obtain employment for our vessels and manage our relationships with charterers.

 

 

Technical management. Our unaffiliated external technical manager or our in-house technical manager perform day-to-day operations and maintenance of vessels.

 

Our Competitive Strengths and our Business Strategy

 

We believe that we have a number of strengths that provide us with a competitive advantage in the dry bulk shipping industry, including:

 

 

A fleet of Supramax dry bulk vessels. We specialize in the Supramax class of the Handymax sector of the dry bulk industry. Our operating fleet of 45 vessels at December 31, 2014 makes us one of the world's largest fleets of vessels in that sector. We view Handymax vessels, especially the Supramax class of vessels, as a highly attractive sector of the dry bulk shipping industry relative to larger vessel sectors due to their:

  

 

-

reduced volatility in charter rates compared to other classes of vessels;

 

-

increased operating flexibility;

 

-

ability to access more ports;

 

-

ability to carry a more diverse range of cargoes; and

 

-

broader customer base.

 

 
6

 

 

 

A modern, high quality fleet. The 45 Handymax vessels in our operating fleet at December 31, 2014 had an average age of approximately 7.6 years compared to an average age for the world Handymax dry bulk fleet of approximately 8.9 years. In 2011, we completed our Supramax vessel newbuilding program, pursuant to which we took delivery of 27 Supramax newbuilding vessels from 2008 to 2011. We believe that owning a modern, high quality fleet reduces operating costs, improves safety and provides us with a competitive advantage in securing employment for our vessels. Our fleet was built to high standards and all of our vessels were built at leading Japanese and Chinese shipyards, including Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., and Oshima Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. The newbuilding vessels were built at premier shipyards in, IHI Marine United, Japan and Yangzhou Dayang Shipbuilding Co. Ltd, China.

     

  

A fleet of sister and similar ships allows us to maintain low cost, highly efficient operations. Our current operating fleet of 45 vessels includes eight identical sister ships built at the Mitsui shipyard based on the same design specifications, two sets of five and 17 identical sister ships built at Dayang shipyard, five identical sister ships built at IHI Marine United shipyard, and three similar ships built at the Oshima shipyard that use many of the same parts and equipment. In addition, we charter-in a 37,000 dwt newbuilt Japanese vessel. Operating sister and similar ships provides us with operational and scheduling flexibility, efficiencies in employee training and lower inventory and maintenance expenses. We believe that this should allow us both to increase revenue and lower operating costs. We intend to actively monitor and control vessel operating expenses while maintaining the high quality of our fleet through regular inspection and maintenance programs. We also intend to take advantage of savings that result from the economies of scale that the third party technical managers provide us through access to bulk purchasing of supplies, quality crew members and a global service network of engineers, naval architects and port captains.

     

  

Balanced charter program. Our strategy is to balance our revenues between mid-term time charters, short-term time charters, voyage charters and pool arrangements to maximize our financial performance throughout shipping cycles. The Company has been executing its commercial strategy by trading in the spot market through spot market-related time charters on voyages, short time charters, index charters, and pool charters. We have entered into either time charter, or voyage charter employment, or pool contracts for all the vessels in our operating fleet. The vessels that are on charters whose revenues are linked to the Baltic Supramax index generally have durations of one-year or less. These index-linked charters, voyage charters and pool contracts can provide us with revenue upside assuming the market improves. We regularly monitor the dry bulk shipping market and based on market conditions we may consider taking advantage of long-term charter rates when appropriate.

     

  

Expand our fleet through selective acquisitions of dry bulk vessels. Depending on market conditions, we intend to acquire additional modern, high-quality vessels through timely and selective acquisitions in a manner that is accretive to our cash flows. We expect to focus primarily in the Handymax sector of the dry bulk shipping industry, and in particular on Supramax class vessels. We may also consider acquisitions of other sizes of dry bulk vessels, but not tankers.

 

Our Fleet

 

Our operating fleet of 45 vessels is fitted with cargo cranes and cargo grabs that permit our vessels to load and unload cargo in ports that do not have cargo handling infrastructure in place. Our vessels are flagged in the Marshall Islands. Our vessels are all employed on time and voyage charters. The following table represents certain information about our operating fleet as of December 31, 2014:

 

Vessel

 

Class

 

Dwt

 

Year

Built

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avocet

 

Supramax

 

53,462

 

2010

             

Bittern 

 

Supramax

 

57,809

 

2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canary

 

Supramax

 

57,809

 

2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cardinal

 

Supramax

 

55,362

 

2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Condor

 

Supramax

 

50,296

 

2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crane

 

Supramax

 

57,809

 

2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crested Eagle

 

Supramax

 

55,989

 

2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crowned Eagle

 

Supramax

 

55,940

 

2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Egret Bulker

 

Supramax

 

57,809

 

2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falcon

 

Supramax

 

50,296

 

2001

  

 

 

 

Gannet Bulker

 

Supramax

 

57,809

 

2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Golden Eagle

 

Supramax

 

55,989

 

2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goldeneye

 

Supramax

 

52,421

 

2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grebe Bulker

 

Supramax

 

57,809

 

2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harrier

 

Supramax

 

50,296

 

2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawk I

 

Supramax

 

50,296

 

2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ibis Bulker

 

Supramax

 

57,775

 

2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imperial Eagle

 

Supramax

 

55,989

 

2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jaeger

 

Supramax

 

52,248

 

2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jay

 

Supramax

 

57,802

 

2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kestrel I

 

Supramax

 

50,326

 

2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kingfisher

 

Supramax

 

57,776

 

2010

             

Kite

 

Handymax

 

47,195

 

1997

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kittiwake

 

Supramax

 

53,146

 

2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martin

 

Supramax

 

57,809

 

2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merlin

 

Supramax

 

50,296

 

2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nighthawk

 

Supramax

 

57,809

 

2011

             

Oriole

 

Supramax

 

57,809

 

2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Osprey I

 

Supramax

 

50,206

 

2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Owl

 

Supramax

 

57,809

 

2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peregrine

 

Supramax

 

50,913

 

2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Petrel Bulker

 

Supramax

 

57,809

 

2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puffin Bulker

 

Supramax

 

57,809

 

2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Redwing

 

Supramax

 

53,411

 

2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roadrunner Bulker

 

Supramax

 

57,809

 

2011

  

 

 

 

Sandpiper Bulker

 

Supramax

 

57,809

 

2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shrike

 

Supramax

 

53,343

 

2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skua

 

Supramax

 

53,350

 

2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sparrow

 

Handymax

 

48,225

 

2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stellar Eagle

 

Supramax

 

55,989

 

2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tern

 

Supramax

 

50,200

 

2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thrasher

 

Supramax

 

53,360

 

2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thrush

 

Supramax

 

53,297

 

2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woodstar

 

Supramax

 

53,390

 

2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wren

 

Supramax

 

53,349

 

2008

 

Nature of Business

 

Our strategy is to balance our revenues between mid-term time charters, short-term time charters, voyage charters and pool arrangements to maximize our financial performance throughout shipping cycles. The Company has been executing its commercial strategy by trading in the spot market through spot market-related time charters on voyage charters, short time charters, index charters, and pool arrangements. We have entered into either time charter, or voyage charter employment, or pool contracts for all the vessels in our operating fleet. The vessels that are on charters whose revenues are linked to the Baltic Supramax index generally have durations of one-year or less. These index-linked charters, voyage charters and pool contracts provide us with revenue upside assuming the market improves. We regularly monitor the dry bulk shipping market and based on market conditions we may consider taking advantage of long-term charter rates when appropriate.

  

Under a pool arrangement, the vessels operate under a time charter agreement with the Pool Manager. The members of the pool share in the revenue generated by the entire group of vessels in the pool, and the pool may operate either in the time charter or spot market in which case the cost of bunkers and port costs are borne by the pool and the net pool revenue is distributed as time charter hire to each participant. To the extent the vessels are operated in the spot market, they are subject to the fluctuations of the spot market. The operating costs including crews, maintenance and insurance are typically paid by the owner of the vessel.

 

We believe that this structure provides significant visibility to our future financial results and allows us to take advantage of the relatively stable cash flows and high utilization rates that are associated with medium-term time charters, while at the same time providing us with the revenue upside potential from the index-linked or short-term time charters or voyage charters or pool arrangements. We regularly monitor the dry bulk shipping market and based on market conditions we may consider taking advantage of long-term charter rates.

 

 
9

 

 

A time charter involves the hiring of a vessel from its owner for a period of time pursuant to a contract under which the vessel owner places its ship (including its crew and equipment) at the service of the charterer. Under a typical time charter, the charterer periodically pays us a fixed or an index-based daily charter hire rate and bears all voyage expenses, including the cost of fuel and port and canal charges. Once we have time chartered-out a vessel, trading of the vessel and the commercial risks shift to the customer. Subject to certain restrictions imposed by us in the contract, the charterer determines the type and quantity of cargo to be carried and the ports of loading and discharging. We have established our own in-house technical management capability, through which we provide technical management services to several of our and related party vessels. We have contracted the technical operations of a portion of our vessels to third-party vessel managers, and oversee the technical operation and navigation of the vessel at all times, including monitoring vessel operating expenses, such as the cost of crewing, insuring, repairing and maintaining the vessel, costs of spare parts and supplies, tonnage taxes and other miscellaneous expenses.

 

In connection with the charters of each of our vessels, we pay commissions ranging from 1.25% to 5.00% of the total daily charter hire rate of each charter to unaffiliated ship brokers and to in-house ship brokers associated with the charterers, depending on the number of brokers involved with arranging the relevant charter.

 

Our vessels operate worldwide within the trading limits imposed by our insurance terms and do not operate in areas where United States and or United Nations sanctions have been imposed.

 

Our Customers

 

Our customers include international companies such as Lauritzen Bulkers A/S, Olam International, Hyundai Merchant Marine Co Ltd, Jaldhi Overseas pte. Ltd., Navig8 Inc., Phaeton international Ltd., Starhigh Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd., Bunge Ltd., Norvic Shipping, Harmony Innovation , Billion Gain Enterprise Inc, Simtra International LLC, MUR Shipping B.V., and Lighthouse Navigation Pte Ltd. Our assessment of customers’ financial condition and reliability is an important factor in negotiating employment for our vessels. We aim to charter our vessels to major trading houses (including commodities traders), publicly traded companies, reputable vessel owners and operators, major producers and government-owned entities rather than to more speculative or undercapitalized entities. We evaluate the counterparty risk of potential customers based on our management's experience in the shipping industry combined with the additional input of two independent credit risk consultants. In 2014, for the period January 1 to October 15, one customer and Navig8 pool individually accounted for more than 10% of our time and voyage charter revenue 10.5% and 17.7% of our revenue, respectively. For the period October 16 to December 31, 2014, the Navig8 pool accounted for more than 10% of our revenue, 27.7%. In 2013, two customers individually accounted for more than 10% of our time and voyage charter revenue, accounting for approximately 15.8% and 13.8% of our time and voyage charter revenue, respectively. In 2012, two customers individually accounted for more than 10% of our time and voyage charter revenue, accounting for approximately 26.5% and 11.9% of our time and voyage charter revenue, respectively. In 2011, one customer accounted for more than 10% of our time and voyage charter revenue, accounting for approximately 10.0% of our time and voyage charter revenue.

  

Operations

 

There are two central aspects to the operation of our fleet:

 

 

Commercial operations, which involve chartering and operating a vessel; and

 

 

Technical operations, which involve maintaining, crewing and insuring a vessel.

 

We carry out the commercial and strategic management of our fleet through our wholly owned subsidiaries, Eagle Shipping International (USA) LLC, a Marshall Islands limited liability company that was formed in January 2005 and maintains its principal executive offices in New York City, and Eagle Bulk Pte. Ltd, a Singapore company. Our office staff, either directly or through these subsidiaries, provides the following services:

 

 

commercial operations and technical supervision;

 

 

safety monitoring;

 

 

vessel acquisition; and

 

 

financial, accounting and information technology services.

   

We currently have an aggregate of 71 shore-based personnel in our principal executive and Singapore offices.

 

 
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Commercial and Strategic Management

 

We perform all of the commercial and strategic management of our fleet that includes obtaining employment for our vessels and maintaining our relationships with our charterers. We believe that because our management team experience in operating Handymax and Handysize dry bulk vessels, we have access to a broad range of charterers and can employ the fleet efficiently in any market and achieve high utilization rates.

 

In accordance with our strategy, we have entered into time, voyage and pool charters for all 45 of our vessels currently in the operating fleet. In general, our time charters afford us greater assurance that we will be able to cover a fixed portion of our costs, mitigate revenue volatility, provide stable cash flow and achieve higher utilization rates. Vessels coming off long term employment are employed on the short to mid-term voyage charters or on the spot market. We believe that pools provide cost-effective commercial management activities for a group of similar class vessels. The pool arrangement provides the benefits of a large-scale operation and chartering efficiencies that might not be available to smaller fleets. Under a pool arrangement, the vessels operate under a time charter agreement with the Pool Manager. The members of the pool share in the revenue generated by the entire group of vessels in the pool, and the pool may operate either in the time charter or spot market in which case the cost of the bunkers and port costs are borne by the pool and the net pool revenue is distributed as time charter hire to each participant. To the extent the vessels are operated in the spot market, they are subject to the fluctuations of the spot market. The operating costs including crews, maintenance and insurance are typically paid by the owner of the vessel.

 

The Company launched a freight trading operation to capitalize on value creation strategies in spot trading, contracts of affreightment, time charter-in and -out and derivative instruments. These trading capabilities extend the Company’s global presence, which includes an office in Singapore.

 

We regularly monitor the dry bulk shipping market and, based on market conditions, when a time charter ends, we may consider taking advantage of short-term charter rates. In such cases we will generally arrange voyage charters for those vessels that we will operate in the spot market. Under a voyage charter, the owner of a vessel provides the vessel for the transport of goods between specific ports in return for the payment of an agreed-upon freight per ton of cargo or, alternatively, a specified total amount. All operating costs are borne by the owner of the vessel. A single voyage charter is often referred to as a “spot charter”, which generally lasts from two to ten weeks. Operating vessels in the spot market may afford greater opportunity to capitalize on fluctuations in the spot market; when vessel demand is high we earn higher rates, but when demand is low our rates are lower and potentially insufficient to cover costs. Spot market rates are volatile and are affected by world economics, international events, weather conditions, strikes, governmental policies, supply and demand, and other factors beyond our control. If the markets are especially weak for protracted periods, there is a risk that vessels in the spot market may spend time idle waiting for business, or may have to be "laid up".

 

 

Identifying, purchasing, and selling vessels. We believe that our commercial management team has longstanding relationships in the dry bulk industry, which provides us access to an extensive network of ship brokers and vessel owners that we believe will provide us with an advantage in future transactions.

     

  

Obtaining insurance coverage for our vessels. We have well-established relationships with reputable marine underwriters in all the major insurance markets around the world that helps insure our fleet with insurance at competitive rates.

     

  

Supervising our third party technical managers. We regularly monitor the expenditures, crewing, and maintenance of our vessels by our technical manager, V.Ships Limited. We established in-house technical management capability, through which we provide technical management services to majority of our vessels, in addition to establish a vessel management bench-mark with the external technical manager. Our management team has direct experience with vessel operations, repairs, drydockings and vessel construction.

  

Technical Management 

 

The technical management of a portion of our fleet is provided by our unaffiliated third party technical manager, V.Ships Limited, that we believe is one of the world's largest providers of independent ship management and related services. We established in-house technical management capability, through which we provide technical management services to majority of our vessels, and to establish a vessel management bench-mark with the external technical manager. We review the performance of the managers on an annual basis and may add or change technical managers.

 

Technical management includes managing day-to-day vessel operations, performing general vessel maintenance, ensuring regulatory and classification society compliance, supervising the maintenance and general efficiency of vessels, arranging our hire of qualified officers and crew, arranging and supervising drydocking and repairs, purchasing supplies, spare parts and new equipment for vessels, appointing supervisors and technical consultants and providing technical support. Our technical managers also manage and process all crew insurance claims. Our technical managers maintain records of all costs and expenditures incurred in connection with their services that are available for our review on a daily basis. Our technical managers are members of marine contracting associations which arrange bulk purchasing thereby enabling us to benefit from economies of scale.

 

 
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We currently crew our vessels primarily with officers and seamen from India, Ukraine, Russia, Myanmar, Philippines and East European countries who are supplied by our managers. As of December 31, 2014, we employed approximately 900 officers and seamen on the 45 vessels in our operating fleet. Each technical manager handles each seaman's training, travel, and payroll and is obligated to assure that all our seamen have the qualifications and licenses required to comply with current international regulations and shipping conventions. Additionally, our seafaring employees perform most operational and maintenance work and assist in supervising work during cargo operations and at drydock facilities. We typically man our vessels with more crew members than are required by the country of the vessel's flag safe manning certification in order to allow for the performance of routine maintenance duties. All of our crew members are subject to and are paid commensurate with international collective bargaining agreements and, therefore, we do not anticipate any labor disruptions. All international collective bargaining agreements to which we are a party are renewed for two years, prior to their expiry.

 

We pay our unaffiliated technical manager a monthly fee per vessel plus actual costs incurred by our vessels. For the Predecessor, the Company paid average monthly technical management fees of $13,994 per vessel for the period from January 1 to October 15 in 2014, $11,901 for year ended December 31, 2013 and $10,194 for year ended in 2012. For the Successor, the Company paid average monthly technical management fees of $11,041 per vessel for the period from October 16 to December 31 in 2014.

 

Permits and Authorizations 

 

We are required by various governmental and quasi-governmental agencies to obtain certain permits, licenses and certificates with respect to our vessels. The kinds of permits, licenses and certificates required depend upon several factors, including the commodity transported, the waters in which the vessel operates, the nationality of the vessel's crew and the age of a vessel. We expect to be able to obtain all permits, licenses and certificates currently required to permit our vessels to operate. Additional laws and regulations, environmental or otherwise, may be adopted which could limit our ability to do business or increase the cost of us doing business.

 

Environmental and Other Regulations

 

Government regulation significantly affects the ownership and operation of our vessels. We are subject to international conventions and treaties, national, state and local laws and regulations in force in the countries in which our vessels may operate or are registered relating to safety and health and environmental protection including the storage, handling, emission, transportation and discharge of hazardous and non-hazardous materials, and the remediation of contamination and liability for damage to natural resources. Compliance with such laws, regulations and other requirements entails significant expense, including vessel modifications and implementation of certain operating procedures. 

 

A variety of government and private entities subject our vessels to both scheduled and unscheduled inspections. These entities include the local port authorities (United States Coast Guard, harbor master or equivalent), classification societies; flag state administrations (country of registry) and charterers, particularly terminal operators. Certain of these entities require us to obtain permits, licenses and certificates for the operation of our vessels. Failure to maintain necessary permits or approvals could require us to incur substantial costs or temporarily suspend the operation of one or more of our vessels.

 

We believe that the heightened level of environmental and quality concerns among insurance underwriters, regulators and charterers is leading to greater inspection and safety requirements on all vessels and may accelerate the scrapping of older vessels throughout the dry bulk shipping industry. Increasing environmental concerns have created a demand for vessels that conform to the stricter environmental standards. We are required to maintain operating standards for all of our vessels that emphasize operational safety, quality maintenance, continuous training of our officers and crews and compliance with United States and international regulations. We believe that the operation of our vessels is in substantial compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations and that our vessels have all material permits, licenses, certificates or other authorizations necessary for the conduct of our operations. However, because such laws and regulations are frequently changed and may impose increasingly stricter requirements, we cannot predict the ultimate cost of complying with these requirements, or the impact of these requirements on the resale value or useful lives of our vessels.  In addition, a future serious marine incident, such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, that causes significant adverse environmental impact could result in additional legislation or regulation that could negatively affect our profitability.

 

International Maritime Organization

 

The United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (the “IMO”) has adopted several international conventions, including the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (collectively referred to as MARPOL 73/78 and herein as “MARPOL”).  MARPOL entered into force on October 2, 1983.  It has been adopted by over 150 nations, including many of the jurisdictions in which our vessels operate.  MARPOL sets forth pollution-prevention requirements applicable to drybulk carriers, among other vessels, and is broken into six Annexes, each of which regulates a different source of pollution.  Annex I relates to oil leakage or spilling; Annexes II and III relate to harmful substances carried, in bulk, in liquid or packaged form, respectively; Annexes IV and V relate to sewage and garbage management, respectively; and Annex VI, lastly, relates to air emissions.  Annex VI was separately adopted by the IMO in September of 1997, and relates to air emissions.

 

 
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In 2012, the IMO’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee (“MEPC”) adopted by resolution amendments to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (the “IBC Code”). The provisions of the IBC Code are mandatory under MARPOL and SOLAS. These amendments, which entered into force in June 2014, pertain to revised international certificates of fitness for the carriage of dangerous chemicals in bulk and identifying new products that fall under the IBC Code. We may need to make certain financial expenditures to comply with these amendments.

 

In 2013, the MEPC adopted by resolution amendments to the MARPOL Annex I Conditional Assessment Scheme, or CAS. The amendments, which became effective on October 1, 2014, pertain to revising references to the inspections of bulk carriers and tankers after the 2011 ESP Code, which enhances the programs of inspections, became mandatory. We may need to make certain financial expenditures to comply with these amendments.

  

Air Emissions 

In September of 1997, the IMO adopted Annex VI to MARPOL to address air pollution.  Effective May 2005, Annex VI sets limits on nitrogen oxide emissions from ships whose diesel engines were constructed (or underwent major conversions) on or after January 1, 2000.  It also prohibits “deliberate emissions” of “ozone depleting substances,” defined to include certain halons and chlorofluorocarbons.  “Deliberate emissions” are not limited to times when the ship is at sea; they can for example include discharges occurring in the course of the ship’s repair and maintenance.  Emissions of “volatile organic compounds” from certain tankers, and the shipboard incineration (from incinerators installed after January 1, 2000) of certain substances (such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)) are also prohibited.  Annex VI also includes a global cap on the sulfur content of fuel oil and allows for special areas to be established with more stringent controls of sulfur emissions known as “Emission Control Areas” (“ECAs”) (see below).

  

MEPC, adopted amendments to Annex VI on October 10, 2008, which entered into force on July 1, 2010.  The amended Annex VI seeks to further reduce air pollution by, among other things, implementing a progressive reduction of the amount of sulphur contained in any fuel oil used on board ships.  As of January 1, 2012, the amended Annex VI requires that fuel oil contain no more than 3.50% sulfur.  By January 1, 2020, sulfur content must not exceed 0.50%, subject to a feasibility review to be completed no later than 2018.

Sulfur content standards are even stricter within certain ECAs.  As of July 1, 2010, ships operating within an ECA may not use fuel with sulfur content in excess of 1.0% which was further reduced to 0.10% on January 1, 2015.  Amended Annex VI establishes procedures for designating new ECAs.  Currently, the Baltic Sea the North Sea and certain coastal areas of North America have been so designated. Furthermore as of January 1, 2014 the applicable areas of the United States and the Caribbean Sea were designated ECAs.  Ocean-going vessels in these areas will be subject to stringent emissions controls and may cause us to incur additional costs. If other ECAs are approved by the IMO or other new or more stringent requirements relating to emissions from marine diesel engines or port operations by vessels are adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”), or the states where we operate, compliance with these regulations could entail significant capital expenditures, operational changes, or otherwise increase the costs of our operations.

 

Amended Annex VI also establishes new tiers of stringent nitrogen oxide emissions standards for new marine engines, depending on their date of installation.  The EPA promulgated equivalent (and in some senses stricter) emissions standards in late 2009.

 

As of January 1, 2010, the Directive 2005/33/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of July 6, 2005, amending Directive 1999/32/EC, came into force. The objective of the directive is to reduce emission of sulfur dioxide and particulate matter caused by the combustion of certain petroleum derived fuels. The directive imposes limits on the sulfur content of such fuels as a condition of their use within a Member State territory. The maximum sulfur content for marine fuels used by inland waterway vessels and ships at berth in ports in EU countries after January 1, 2010, is 0.10% by mass. As of January 1, 2015, all vessels operating within ECAs worldwide must comply with 0.1% sulphur requirements. Currently, the only grade of fuel meeting 0.1% sulphur content requirements is low sulphur marine gas oil (“LSMGO”). On July 15, 2011, the European Commission also adopted a proposal for an amendment of Directive 1999/32/EC which would align requirements with those imposed by the revised MARPOL Annex VI which introduced stricter sulphur limits.

 

Safety Management System Requirements 

 

The IMO also adopted the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, (“SOLAS”), and the International Convention on Load Lines, or the LL Convention, which impose a variety of standards that regulate the design and operational features of ships.  The IMO periodically revises the SOLAS and LL Convention standards. May 2012 SOLAS amendments entered into force on January 1, 2014. The Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (“LLMC”) was recently amended and the amendments are expected to go into effect on June 8, 2015. The amendments alter the limits of liability for loss of life or personal injury claim and property claims against ship-owners.

 

 
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The operation of our ships is also affected by the requirements set forth in Chapter IX of SOLAS, which sets forth the IMO's International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and Pollution Prevention, the ISM Code. The ISM Code requires ship owners and bareboat charterers to develop and maintain an extensive Safety Management System (“SMS”) that includes among other things the adoption of a safety and environmental protection policy setting forth instructions and procedures for safe operation and describing procedures for dealing with emergencies. We rely upon the safety management system that we and our technical manager have developed for compliance with the ISM Code. The failure of a ship owner or bareboat charterer to comply with the ISM Code may subject such party to increased liability, may decrease available insurance coverage for the affected vessels and may result in a denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports. As of the date of this filing, all of the vessels in our operating fleet are ISM code-certified. 

 

The ISM Code requires that vessel operators obtain a safety management certificate, or SMC, for each vessel they operate. This certificate evidences compliance by a vessel’s operators with the ISM Code requirements for a safety management system, or SMS. No vessel can obtain an SMC under the ISM Code unless its manager has been awarded a document of compliance, or DOC, issued in most instances by the vessel's flag state. Our appointed ship managers have obtained documents of compliance for their offices and safety management certificates for all of our vessels for which the certificates are required by the IMO, which are renewed as required.

 

Pollution Control and Liability Requirements  

 

The IMO has negotiated international conventions that impose liability for pollution in international waters and the territorial waters of the signatories to such conventions.  For example, the IMO adopted the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments,(“the BWM Convention,”) in February 2004. The BWM Convention’s implementing regulations call for a phased introduction of mandatory ballast water exchange requirements, to be replaced in time with mandatory concentration limits. The BWM Convention will not become effective until 12 months after it has been adopted by 30 states, the combined merchant fleets of which represent not less than 35% of the gross tonnage of the world's merchant shipping. To date, there has not been sufficient adoption of this standard for it to take force. Many of the implementation dates originally written in the BWM Convention have already passed, so that once the BWM Convention enters into force, the period for installation of mandatory ballast water exchange requirements would be extremely short, with several thousand ships a year needing to install ballast water management systems (“BWMS”). For this reason, on December 4, 2013, the IMO Assembly passed a resolution revising the application dates of BWM Convention so that they are triggered by the entry into force date and not the dates originally in the BWM Convention. This in effect makes all vessels constructed before the entry into force date “existing’ vessels, and allows for the installation of a BWMS on such vessels at the first renewal survey following entry into force. The mid-ocean ballast exchange or ballast water treatment requirements became mandatory. The cost of compliance could increase for ocean carriers. Although we do not believe that the costs of such compliance would be material, it is difficult to predict the overall impact of such a requirement on our operations. On March 23, 2012, the U.S. Coast Guard issued amended regulations relating to ballast water management for vessels operating in U.S. waters. The costs of compliance with ballast water treatment regulations may be material. 

 

The IMO adopted the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, or the Bunker Convention, to impose strict liability on ship owners for pollution damage in jurisdictional waters of ratifying states caused by discharges of bunker fuel. The Bunker Convention requires registered owners of ships over 1,000 gross tons to maintain insurance for pollution damage in an amount equal to the limits of liability under the applicable national or international limitation regime (but not exceeding the amount calculated in accordance with the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims of 1976, as amended). With respect to non-ratifying states, liability for spills or releases of oil carried as fuel in ship’s bunkers typically is determined by the national or other domestic laws in the jurisdiction where the events or damages occur.

 

In March 2006, the IMO amended Annex I to MARPOL, including a regulation relating to oil fuel tank protection, which became effective August 1, 2007. The regulation applies to various ships delivered on or after August 1, 2010. The requirements it contains address issues like the fuel tanks, protected location accidental oil fuel outflow performance standards, a tank capacity limit and certain other maintenance, inspection and engineering standards.

 

IMO regulations also require owners and operators of certain vessels to adopt Ship Oil Pollution Emergency Plans. Periodic training and drills for response personnel and for vessels and their crews are required.

 

Anti-Fouling Requirements 

 

In 2001, the IMO adopted the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships, the Anti-fouling Convention.  The Anti-fouling Convention prohibits the use of organotin compound coatings to prevent the attachment of mollusks and other sea life to the hulls of vessels.  Vessels of over 400 gross tons engaged in international voyages are required to undergo an initial survey before the vessel is put into service or before an International Anti-fouling System Certificate is issued for the first time; and subsequent surveys when the anti-fouling systems are altered or replaced. We have obtained Anti-fouling System Certificates for all of our vessels that are subject to the Anti-fouling Convention.

 

 
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The IMO continues to review and introduce new regulations. For example, in July 2011 MARPOL adopted amendments for the prevention of air pollution, which designate certain waters near the coasts of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands ECAs for emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, and particulate matter. The new ECA designation entered into force on January 1, 2014. It is impossible to predict what additional regulations, if any, may be passed by the IMO and what effect, if any, such regulations might have on our operations.

 

Compliance Enforcement

 

The flag state, as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is responsible for implementing and enforcing a broad range of international maritime regulations with respect to all ships granted the right to fly its flag.  The “Shipping Industry Guidelines on Flag State Performance” evaluates and reports on flag states based on factors such as sufficiency of infrastructure, ratification, implementation, and enforcement of principal international maritime treaties, supervision of statutory ship surveys, casualty investigations, and participation at IMO and ILO meetings. Our vessels are flagged in the Marshall Islands. Marshall Islands-flagged vessels have historically received a good assessment in the shipping industry.  We recognize the importance of a credible flag state and do not intend to use flags of convenience or flag states with poor performance indicators.

 

Noncompliance with the ISM Code or other IMO regulations may subject the ship owner or bareboat charterer to increased liability, lead to decreases in available insurance coverage for affected vessels or result in the denial of access to, or detention in, some ports. As of the date of this report, each of our vessels is ISM Code certified.  However, there can be no assurance that such certificates will be maintained in the future.

 

The IMO continues to introduce new regulations. It is impossible to predict what additional regulations, if any, may be passed by the IMO and what effect, if any, such regulations might have on our operations.

 

The U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act 

 

The U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (“OPA”) established an extensive regulatory and liability regime for the protection and cleanup of the environment from oil spills. OPA affects all “owners and operators” whose vessels trade with the United States, its territories and possessions or whose vessels operate in United States waters, which includes the United States’ territorial sea and its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone around the United States.  The United States has also enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or CERCLA, which applies to the discharge of hazardous substances other than oil, except in limited circumstances whether on land or at sea. OPA and CERCLA both define “owner and operator” “in the case of a vessel, as any person owning, operating or chartering by demise, the vessel.”  Both OPA and CERCLA impact our operations.

 

Under OPA, vessel owners and operators are “responsible parties” and are jointly, severally and strictly liable (unless the spill results solely from the act or omission of a third party, an act of God or an act of war) for all containment and clean-up costs and other damages arising from discharges or threatened discharges of oil from their vessels. OPA defines these other damages broadly to include:

 

 

(i)

injury to, destruction or loss of, or loss of use of, natural resources and related assessment costs;

 

(ii)

injury to, or economic losses resulting from, the destruction of real and personal property;

 

(iii)

net loss of taxes, royalties, rents, fees or net profit revenues resulting from injury, destruction or loss of real or personal property, or natural resources;

 

(iv)

loss of subsistence use of natural resources that are injured, destroyed or lost;

 

(v)

lost profits or impairment of earning capacity due to injury, destruction or loss of real or personal property or natural resources; and

 

(vi)

net cost of increased or additional public services necessitated by removal activities following a discharge of oil, such as protection from fire, safety or health hazards, and loss of subsistence use of natural resources.

 

 
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OPA contains statutory caps on liability and damages; such caps do not apply to direct cleanup costs.  Effective July 31, 2009, the U.S. Coast Guard adjusted the limits of OPA liability for non-tank vessels (e.g. drybulk) to the greater of $1,000 per gross ton or $854,400 (subject to periodic adjustment for inflation).  These limits of liability do not apply if an incident was proximately caused by the violation of an applicable U.S. federal safety, construction or operating regulation by a responsible party (or its agent, employee or a person acting pursuant to a contractual relationship), or a responsible party’s gross negligence or willful misconduct.  The limitation on liability similarly does not apply if the responsible party fails or refuses to (i) report the incident where the responsibility party knows or has reason to know of the incident; (ii) reasonably cooperate and assist as requested in connection with oil removal activities; or (iii) without sufficient cause, comply with an order issued under the Federal Water Pollution Act (Section 311 (c), (e)) or the Intervention on the High Seas Act.

 

CERCLA contains a similar liability regime whereby owners and operators of vessels are liable for cleanup, removal and remedial costs, as well as damage for injury to, or destruction or loss of, natural resources, including the reasonable costs associated with assessing same, and health assessments or health effects studies. There is no liability if the discharge of a hazardous substance results solely from the act or omission of a third party, an act of God or an act of war. Liability under CERCLA is limited to the greater of $300 per gross ton or $5.0 million for vessels carrying a hazardous substance as cargo or residue and the greater of $300 per gross ton or $500,000 for any other vessel. These limits do not apply (rendering the responsible person liable for the total cost of response and damages) if the release or threat of release of a hazardous substance resulted from willful misconduct or negligence, or the primary cause of the release was a violation of applicable safety, construction or operating standards or regulations.  The limitation on liability also does not apply if the responsible person fails or refused to provide all reasonable cooperation and assistance as requested in connection with response activities where the vessel is subject to OPA.

 

OPA and CERCLA each preserve the right to recover damages under existing law, including maritime tort law.

 

OPA and CERCLA both require owners and operators of vessels to establish and maintain with the U.S. Coast Guard (the “USCG”) evidence of financial responsibility sufficient to meet the maximum amount of liability to which the particular responsible person may be subject. Vessel owners and operators may satisfy their financial responsibility obligations by providing a proof of insurance, a surety bond, qualification as a self-insurer or a guarantee. We have complied with the regulations by providing a certificate of responsibility from third party entities that are acceptable to the USCG evidencing sufficient self-insurance.

 

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may also result in additional regulatory initiatives or statutes, including the raising of liability caps under OPA.  Compliance with any new requirements of OPA may substantially impact our cost of operations or require us to incur additional expenses to comply with any new regulatory initiatives or statutes.  Additional legislation or regulations applicable to the operation of our vessels that may be implemented in the future could adversely affect our business.

 

We currently maintain pollution liability coverage insurance in the amount of $1 billion per incident for each of our vessels. If the damages from a catastrophic spill were to exceed our insurance coverage it could have an adverse effect on our business and results of operation.

 

OPA specifically permits individual states to impose their own liability regimes with regard to oil pollution incidents occurring within their boundaries, provided they accept, at a minimum, the levels of liability established under OPA and some states have enacted legislation providing for unlimited liability for oil spills. In some cases, states which have enacted such legislation have not yet issued implementing regulations defining vessel owners’ responsibilities under these laws. We intend to comply with all applicable state regulations in the ports where our vessels call. We believe that we are in substantial compliance with all applicable existing state requirements. In addition, we intend to comply with all future applicable state regulations in the ports where our vessels call.

 

Other Environmental Initiatives

 

The U.S. Clean Water Act (the “CWA”) prohibits the discharge of oil, hazardous substances and ballast water in U.S. navigable waters unless authorized by a duly-issued permit or exemption, and imposes strict liability in the form of penalties for any unauthorized discharges. The CWA also imposes substantial liability for the costs of removal, remediation and damages and complements the remedies available under OPA and CERCLA. Furthermore, many U.S. states that border a navigable waterway have enacted environmental pollution laws that impose strict liability on a person for removal costs and damages resulting from a discharge of oil or a release of a hazardous substance. These laws may be more stringent than U.S. federal law.

 

The EPA and USCG, have enacted rules relating to ballast water discharge, compliance with which requires the installation of equipment on our vessels to treat ballast water before it is discharged or the implementation of other port facility disposal arrangements or procedures at potentially substantial cost, and/or otherwise restrict our vessels from entering U.S. waters.

 

The EPA has enacted rules requiring a permit regulating ballast water discharges and other discharges incidental to the normal operation of certain vessels within United States waters under the Vessel General Permit for Discharges Incidental to the Normal Operation of Vessels (“the VGP”). For a new vessel delivered to an owner or operator after September 19, 2009 to be covered by the VGP, the owner must submit a Notice of Intent (“NOI”) at least 30 days before the vessel operates in United States waters. On March 28, 2013, the EPA re-issued the VGP for another five years; this 2013 VGP took effect December 19, 2013. The 2013 VGP contains numeric ballast water discharge limits for most vessels to reduce the risk of invasive species in US waters, more stringent requirements for exhaust gas scrubbers and the use of environmentally acceptable lubricants. We have submitted NOIs for our vessels where required and do not believe that the costs associated with obtaining and complying with the VGP will have a material impact on our operations.

 

 
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In addition, under §401 of the CWA, the VGP must be certified by the state where the discharge is to take place. Certain states have enacted additional discharge standards as conditions to their certification of the VGP. These local standards bring the VGP into compliance with more stringent state requirements, such as those further restricting ballast water discharges and preventing the introduction of non-indigenous species considered to be invasive. The VGP and its state-specific regulations and any similar restrictions enacted in the future will increase the costs of operating in the relevant waters.

 

The USCG, regulations adopted under the U.S. National Invasive Species Act (the “NISA”) also impose mandatory ballast water management practices for all vessels equipped with ballast water tanks entering or operating in U.S. waters which require the installation of equipment to treat ballast water before it is discharged in U.S. waters or, in the alternative, the implementation of other port facility disposal arrangements or procedures. Vessels not complying with these regulations are restricted from entering U.S. waters. The USCG must approve any technology before it is placed on a vessel.

 

Notwithstanding the foregoing, as of January 1, 2014, vessels are technically subject to the phasing-in of these standards. As a result, the USCG has provided waivers to vessels which cannot install the as-yet unapproved technology. The EPA, on the other hand, has taken a different approach to enforcing ballast discharge standards under the VGP. On December 27, 2013, the EPA issued an enforcement response policy in connection with the new VGP in which the EPA indicated that it would take into account the reasons why vessels do not have the requisite technology installed, but will not grant any waivers.

 

The U.S. Clean Air Act of 1970 (including its amendments of 1977 and 1990) (the "CAA") requires the EPA to promulgate standards applicable to emissions of volatile organic compounds and other air contaminants. The CAA also requires states to draft State Implementation Plans ("SIPs") designed to attain national health-based air quality standards in each state.  Although state-specific, SIPs may include regulations concerning emissions resulting from vessel loading and unloading operations by requiring the installation of vapor control equipment.

 

As referenced above, the amended Annex VI to the IMO's MARPOL Convention, which addresses air pollution from ships, was ratified by the United States on October 8, 2008 and entered into force on January 1, 2010. The EPA and the state of California, however, have each proposed more stringent regulations of air emissions from ocean-going vessels. On July 24, 2008, the California Air Resources Board of the State of California (“CARB”), approved clean-fuel regulations applicable to all vessels sailing within 24 miles of the California coastline. The new CARB regulations require such vessels to use low sulfur marine fuels rather than bunker fuel. As of July 1, 2009, such vessels were required to switch either to marine gas oil with a sulfur content of no more than 1.5% or marine diesel oil with a sulfur content of no more than 0.5%. As of August 1, 2012, only marine gas oil with a sulfur content of no more than 1% or marine diesel oil with a sulfur content of no more than 0.5% is allowed.  As of January 1, 2014, only marine gas oil and marine diesel oil fuels with 0.1% sulfur is allowed. These new regulations may require significant expenditures on low-sulfur fuel and would increase our operating costs.

 

Our operations occasionally generate and require the transportation, treatment and disposal of both hazardous and non-hazardous solid wastes that are subject to the requirements of the U.S. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA,”) or comparable state, local or foreign requirements.  The RCRA imposes significant recordkeeping and reporting requirements on transporters of hazardous waste. In addition, from time to time we arrange for the disposal of hazardous waste or hazardous substances at offsite disposal facilities. If such materials are improperly disposed of by third parties, we may still be held liable for cleanup costs under applicable laws.

 

European Union Regulations

 

In October 2009, the European Union amended a directive to impose criminal sanctions for illicit ship-source discharges of polluting substances, including minor discharges, if committed with intent, recklessly or with serious negligence and the discharges individually or in the aggregate result in deterioration of the quality of water. Aiding and abetting the discharge of a polluting substance may also lead to criminal penalties.  Member States were required to enact laws or regulations to comply with the directive by the end of 2010.  Criminal liability for pollution may result in substantial penalties or fines and increased civil liability claims.  The directive applies to all types of vessels, irrespective of their flag, but certain exceptions apply to warships or where human safety or that of the ship is in danger.

 

Greenhouse Gas Regulation 

 

Currently, the emissions of greenhouse gases from international shipping are not subject to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which entered into force in 2005 and pursuant to which adopting countries have been required to implement national programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  As of January 1, 2013, all new ships must comply with two new sets of mandatory requirements, which were adopted by MEPC in July 2011, to address greenhouse gas emissions from ships. Currently operating ships will be required to develop Ship Energy Efficient Management Plans (“SEEMPs”), and minimum energy efficiency levels per capacity mile will apply to new ships, as defined by the Energy Efficiency Design Index (“EEDI”). These requirements could cause us to incur additional compliance costs. The IMO is also planning to implement market-based mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships at an upcoming MEPC session. The European Parliament and Council of Ministers are expected to endorse regulations that would require monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from marine vessels in 2015. In the United States, the EPA has issued a finding that greenhouse gases endanger the public health and safety and has adopted regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions from certain mobile sources and large stationary sources. The EPA enforces both the CAA and the international standards found in Annex VI of MARPOL concerning marine diesel emissions, and the sulfur content found in marine fuel. Any passage of climate control legislation or other regulatory initiatives by the IMO, European Union, the U.S. or other countries where we operate, or any treaty adopted at the international level to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, that restrict emissions of greenhouse gases could require us to make significant financial expenditures, including capital expenditures to upgrade our vessels, which we cannot predict with certainty at this time.

 

 
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International Labor Organization 

 

The International Labor Organization (“ILO”) is a specialized agency of the UN with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The ILO has adopted the Maritime Labor Convention 2006 (MLC). A Maritime Labor Certificate and a Declaration of Maritime Labor Compliance will be required to ensure compliance with the MLC 2006 for all ships above 500 gross tons in international trade. The MLC 2006 entered into force on August 20, 2013. The MLC 2006 requires us to develop new procedures to ensure full compliance.

 

Vessel Security Regulations

 

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States, there have been a variety of initiatives intended to enhance vessel security such as the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (“MTSA”).  To implement certain portions of the MTSA, in July 2003, the USCG issued regulations requiring the implementation of certain security requirements aboard vessels operating in waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.  The regulations also impose requirements on certain ports and facilities, some of which are regulated by the EPA.

 

Similarly, in December 2002, amendments to SOLAS created a new chapter of the convention dealing specifically with maritime security.  The new Chapter V became effective in July 2004 and imposes various detailed security obligations on vessels and port authorities, and mandates compliance with the International Ship and Port Facilities Security Code (“ISPS Code”). The ISPS Code is designed to enhance the security of ports and ships against terrorism.  Amendments to SOLAS Chapter VII, made mandatory in 2004, apply to vessels transporting dangerous goods and require those vessels be in compliance with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (the “IMDG Code”). To trade internationally, a vessel must attain an International Ship Security Certificate (“ISSC”) from a recognized security organization approved by the vessel’s flag state.  Among the various requirements are:

 

 

on-board installation of automatic identification systems to provide a means for the automatic transmission of safety-related information from among similarly equipped ships and shore stations, including information on a ship’s identity, position, course, speed and navigational status;

 

on-board installation of ship security alert systems, which do not sound on the vessel but only alert the authorities on shore;

 

the development of vessel security plans;

 

ship identification number to be permanently marked on a vessel’s hull;

 

a continuous synopsis record kept onboard showing a vessel’s history including the name of the ship, the state whose flag the ship is entitled to fly, the date on which the ship was registered with that state, the ship’s identification number, the port at which the ship is registered and the name of the registered owner(s) and their registered address; and

 

compliance with flag state security certification requirements.

 

Ships operating without a valid certificate may be detained at port until it obtains an ISSC, or it may be expelled from port, or refused entry at port.

 

Furthermore, additional security measures could be required in the future which could have a significant financial impact on us. The USCG regulations, intended to be aligned with international maritime security standards, exempt non-U.S. vessels from MTSA vessel security measures, provided such vessels have on board a valid ISSC that attests to the vessel's compliance with SOLAS security requirements and the ISPS Code. We have implemented the various security measures addressed by the MTSA, SOLAS and the ISPS Code.

 

 
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Inspection by Classification Societies

 

Every oceangoing vessel must be "classed" by a classification society. The classification society certifies that the vessel is "in class," signifying that the vessel has been built and maintained in accordance with the rules of the classification society and complies with applicable rules and regulations of the vessel's country of registry and the international conventions of which that country is a member. In addition, where surveys are required by international conventions and corresponding laws and ordinances of a flag state, the classification society will undertake them on application or by official order, acting on behalf of the authorities concerned.

 

The classification society also undertakes on request other surveys and checks that are required by regulations and requirements of the flag state. These surveys are subject to agreements made in each individual case and/or to the regulations of the country concerned.

 

For maintenance of the class certification, regular and extraordinary surveys of hull, machinery, including the electrical plant, and any special equipment classed are required to be performed as follows:

 

Annual Surveys. For seagoing ships, annual surveys are conducted for the hull and the machinery, including the electrical plant, and where applicable for special equipment classed, within three months before or after each anniversary date of the date of commencement of the class period indicated in the certificate.

 

Intermediate Surveys. Extended annual surveys are referred to as intermediate surveys and typically are conducted two and one-half years after commissioning and each class renewal.  Intermediate surveys are to be carried out at or between the occasion of the second or third annual survey

 

Class Renewal Surveys. Class renewal surveys, also known as special surveys, are carried out for the ship’s hull, machinery, including the electrical plant and for any special equipment classed, at the intervals indicated by the character of classification for the hull. At the special survey the vessel is thoroughly examined, including audio-gauging to determine the thickness of the steel structures. Should the thickness be found to be less than class requirements, the classification society would prescribe steel renewals. The classification society may grant a one year grace period for completion of the special survey. Substantial amounts of money may have to be spent for steel renewals to pass a special survey if the vessel experiences excessive wear and tear. In lieu of the special survey approximately every five years, depending on whether a grace period was granted, a ship owner has the option of arranging with the classification society for the vessel’s hull or machinery to be on a continuous survey cycle, in which every part of the vessel would be surveyed within a five year cycle. At an owner’s application, the surveys required for class renewal may be split according to an agreed schedule to extend over the entire period of class. This process is referred to as continuous class renewal.

 

All areas subject to survey as defined by the classification society are required to be surveyed at least once per class period, unless shorter intervals between surveys are prescribed elsewhere. The period between two subsequent surveys of each area must not exceed five years.

 

Most vessels are also drydocked every 30 to 36 months for inspection of the underwater parts and for repairs related to inspections. If any defects are found, the classification surveyor will issue a "recommendation" which must be rectified by the ship owner within prescribed time limits.

 

Most insurance underwriters make it a condition for insurance coverage that a vessel be certified as "in class" by a classification society which is a member of the International Association of Classification Societies, or IACS. In December 2013, the IACS adopted new harmonized Common Structure Rules, which will apply to oil tankers and bulk carriers to be constructed on or after July 1, 2015. All our vessels that we have purchased and may agree to purchase in the future must be certified as being "in class" prior to their delivery under our standard purchase contracts and memorandum of agreement. If the vessel is not certified on the date of closing, we have no obligation to take delivery of the vessel. We have all of our vessels, and intend to have all vessels that we acquire in the future, classed by IACS members.

  

 
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Risk of Loss and Liability Insurance

 

General

 

The operation of any dry bulk vessel includes risks such as mechanical failure, collision, property loss, cargo loss or damage and business interruption due to political circumstances in foreign countries, hostilities and labor strikes. In addition, there is always an inherent possibility of marine disaster, including oil spills (e.g. fuel oil) and other environmental mishaps, and the liabilities arising from owning and operating vessels in international trade. OPA, which imposes virtually unlimited liability upon owners, operators and demise charterers of vessels trading in the United States exclusive economic zone for certain oil pollution accidents in the United States, has made liability insurance more expensive for ship owners and operators trading in the U.S. market.

 

While we maintain hull and machinery insurance, war risks insurance, protection and indemnity cover and freight, demurrage and defense cover for our operating fleet in amounts that we believe to be prudent to cover normal risks in our operations, we may not be able to achieve or maintain this level of coverage throughout a vessel's useful life. Furthermore, while we believe that our current insurance coverage is adequate, not all risks can be insured, and there can be no guarantee that any specific claim will be paid, or that we will always be able to obtain adequate insurance coverage at reasonable rates.

 

Hull & Machinery and War Risks Insurance

 

We maintain marine hull and machinery, war risks insurances, which cover the risk of actual or constructive total loss for all of our vessels. Our vessels are each covered up to at least their fair market value with a deductible of $75,000 per vessel per incident.

  

Protection and Indemnity Insurance

 

Protection and indemnity insurance is provided by mutual protection and indemnity associations, or P&I Associations, which insure our third party liabilities in connection with our shipping activities. This includes third-party liability and other related expenses resulting from the injury, illness or death of crew, passengers and other third parties, the loss or damage to cargo, claims arising from collisions with other vessels, damage to other third-party property, pollution arising from oil or other substances and salvage, towing and other related costs, including wreck removal. Protection and indemnity insurance is a form of mutual indemnity insurance, extended by protection and indemnity mutual associations, or "clubs." Subject to the "capping" discussed below, our coverage, except for pollution, is unlimited.

 

Our current protection and indemnity insurance coverage for pollution is $1 billion per vessel per incident. The 13 P&I Associations that comprise the International Group insure approximately 90% of the world’s commercial tonnage and have entered into a pooling agreement to reinsure each association’s liabilities. As a member of a P&I Association, which is a member of the International Group, we are subject to calls payable to the associations based on the group’s claim records as well as the claim records of all other members of the individual associations and members of the pool of P&I Associations comprising the International Group.

 

Competition

 

We compete with a large number of international dry bulk fleets. The international shipping industry is highly competitive and fragmented with many market participants. As of January 31, 2015 there are approximately 10,373 dry bulk carriers aggregating approximately 761.3 million dwt, and the ownership of the world dry bulk fleet remains very fragmented with no single owner accounting for more than 3% of any one sector. We primarily compete with other owners of dry bulk vessels in the Handymax class that are mainly privately owned fleets.

 

Competition in the ocean shipping industry varies primarily according to the nature of the contractual relationship as well as with respect to the kind of commodity being shipped. Our business will fluctuate in line with the main patterns of trade of dry bulk cargoes and varies according to changes in the supply and demand for these items. Competition in virtually all bulk trades is intense and based primarily on supply and demand. We compete for charters on the basis of price, vessel location, size, age and condition of the vessel, as well as on our reputation as an owner and operator. Increasingly, major customers are demonstrating a preference for modern vessels based on concerns about the environmental and operational risks associated with older vessels. Consequently, owners of large modern fleets have gained a competitive advantage over owners of older fleets.

 

As in the spot market, the time charter market is price sensitive and also depends on our ability to demonstrate the high quality of our vessels and operations to chartering customers. However, because of the longer term commitment, customers entering time charters are more concerned about their exposure and image from chartering vessels that do not comply with environmental regulations or that will be forced out of service for extensive maintenance and repairs. Consequently, in the time charter market, factors such as the age and quality of a vessel and the reputation of the owner and operator tend to be more significant than in the spot market in competing for business.

 

Seasonality

 

Demand for vessel capacity has historically exhibited seasonal variations and, as a result, fluctuations in charter rates. This seasonality may result in quarter-to-quarter volatility in our operating results for our vessels trading in the spot market and our vessels operating under time index-based time charters. The dry bulk carrier market is typically stronger in the fall and winter months in anticipation of increased consumption of coal and other raw materials in the northern hemisphere during the winter months. In addition, unpredictable weather patterns in these months tend to disrupt vessel scheduling and supplies of certain commodities. To the extent that we must enter into a new charter or renew an existing charter for a vessel in our fleet during a time when seasonal variations have reduced prevailing charter rates, our operating results may be adversely affected.

 

 
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Value of Assets and Cash Requirements

 

The replacement costs of comparable new vessels may be above or below the book value of our fleet. The market value of our fleet may be below book value when market conditions are weak and exceed book value when markets are strong. In common with other shipowners, we may consider asset redeployment which at times may include the sale of vessels at less than their book value.

 

The Company's results of operations and cash flow may be significantly affected by future charter and COA markets.

 

Exchange Controls

 

Under Marshall Islands law, there are currently no restrictions on the export or import of capital, including foreign exchange controls or restrictions that affect the remittance of dividends, interest or other payments to non-resident holders of our common stock.

 

Tax Considerations

 

The following is a discussion of the material Marshall Islands and United States federal income tax considerations relevant to owning common stock by a United States Holder or a Non-United States Holder, each as defined below. This discussion does not purport to deal with the tax consequences of owning the common stock to all categories of investors, some of which (such as financial institutions, regulated investment companies, real estate investment trusts, tax-exempt organizations, insurance companies, persons holding our common stock as part of a hedging, integrated, conversion or constructive sale transaction or a straddle, traders in securities that have elected the mark-to-market method of accounting for their securities, persons liable for alternative minimum tax, persons who are investors in pass-through entities, dealers in securities or currencies, persons who own 10% or more of our common stock and investors whose functional currency is not the United States dollar) may be subject to special rules. This discussion deals only with holders who own the common stock as a capital asset. Shareholders are encouraged to consult their own tax advisors concerning the overall tax consequences arising in their own particular situation under United States federal, state, local or foreign law of the ownership of our common stock.

 

Marshall Islands Tax Considerations

 

In the opinion of Seward & Kissel LLP, the following are the material Marshall Islands tax consequences of our activities to us and shareholders of our common stock. We are incorporated in the Marshall Islands. Under current Marshall Islands law, we are not subject to tax on income or capital gains, and no Marshall Islands withholding tax will be imposed upon payments of dividends by us to our shareholders.

 

United States Federal Income Tax Considerations

 

In the opinion of Seward & Kissel LLP, our United States tax counsel, the following are the material United States federal income tax consequences to us of our activities and to United States Holders and to Non-United States Holders of our common stock. The following discussion of United States federal income tax matters is based on the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code, judicial decisions, administrative pronouncements, and existing and proposed regulations issued by the United States Department of the Treasury, all of which are subject to change, possibly with retroactive effect. In addition, the discussion below is based, in part, on the description of our business as described in ''Business'' in this Annual Report and assumes that we conduct our business as described in that section.

 

We have made, or will make, special United States federal income tax elections in respect of each of our ship owning or operating subsidiaries that is potentially subject to tax as a result of deriving income attributable to the transportation of cargoes to or from the United States. The effect of the special U.S. tax elections is to ignore or disregard the subsidiaries for which elections have been made as separate taxable entities and to treat them as part of their parent, the ''Company.'' Therefore, for purposes of the following discussion, the Company, and not the subsidiaries subject to this special election, will be treated as the owner and operator of the vessels and as receiving the income therefrom.

 

 
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United States Federal Income Taxation of Our Company

 

Taxation of Operating Income: In General

 

The Company currently earns, and we anticipate that the Company will continue to earn, substantially all its income from the hiring or leasing of vessels for use on a time or voyage charter basis or from the performance of services directly related to those uses, all of which we refer to as ''shipping income.''

 

Unless exempt from United States federal income taxation under the rules of Section 883 of the Code Section, as discussed below, a foreign corporation such as ourselves will be subject to United States federal income taxation on its ''shipping income'' that is treated as derived from sources within the United States, to which we refer as ''United States source shipping income.'' For tax purposes, ''United States source shipping income'' includes 50% of shipping income that is attributable to transportation that begins or ends, but that does not both begin and end, in the United States.

 

Shipping income attributable to transportation exclusively between Non-United States ports will be considered to be 100% derived from sources outside the United States. Shipping income derived from sources outside the United States will not be subject to any United States federal income tax.

 

Shipping income attributable to transportation exclusively between United States ports is considered to be 100% derived from United States sources. However, the Company is not permitted by United States law to engage in the transportation of cargoes that produces 100% United States source income.

 

Unless exempt from tax under Section 883, the Company's gross United States source shipping income would be subject to a 4% tax imposed without allowance for deductions as described below.

 

Exemption of Operating Income from United States Federal Income Taxation

 

Under Section 883 and the regulations thereunder, a foreign corporation will be exempt from United States federal income taxation on its United States source shipping income if:

 

 

(1)

it is organized in a qualified foreign country, which is one that grants an ''equivalent exemption'' from tax to corporations organized in the United States in respect of each category of shipping income for which exemption is being claimed under Section 883 and to which we refer as the ''Country of Organization Test''; and

 

 

(2)

one of the following tests is met:

 

 

(A)

more than 50% of the value of its shares is beneficially owned, directly or indirectly, by qualified shareholders, which as defined includes individuals who are ''residents'' of a qualified foreign country, to which we refer as the ''50% Ownership Test'';

 

 

(B)

its shares are ''primarily and regularly traded on an established securities market'' in a qualified foreign country or in the United States, to which we refer as the ''Publicly-Traded Test"; or

 

 

(C)

it is a ''controlled foreign corporation'' and satisfies an ownership test, to which, collectively, we refer as the ''CFC Test.''

 

The Republic of the Marshall Islands, the jurisdiction where the Company is incorporated, has been officially recognized by the IRS as a qualified foreign country that grants the requisite ''equivalent exemption'' from tax in respect of each category of shipping income the Company earns and currently expects to earn in the future. Therefore, the Company will be exempt from United States federal income taxation with respect to its United States source shipping income if it satisfies any one of the 50% Ownership Test, the Publicly-Traded Test, or the CFC Test.

 

For our 2014 taxable year, we believe that we satisfy the Publicly-Traded Test, as discussed in more detail below. The Company does not currently anticipate a circumstance under which it would be able to satisfy the 50% Ownership Test or the CFC Test.

 

 
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Publicly-Traded Test

 

The regulations under Section 883 provide, in pertinent part, that shares of a foreign corporation will be considered to be ''primarily traded'' on an established securities market in a country if the number of shares of each class of shares that are traded during any taxable year on all established securities markets in that country exceeds the number of shares in each such class that are traded during that year on established securities markets in any other single country. The Company's common stock, which is its sole class of issued and outstanding shares, are ''primarily traded'' on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.

  

Under the regulations, the Company's common stock will be considered to be ''regularly traded'' on an established securities market if one or more classes of its shares representing more than 50% of its outstanding shares, by both total combined voting power of all classes of shares entitled to vote and total value, are listed on such market, to which we refer as the ''listing threshold.'' Since our common stock, which is our sole class of issued and outstanding shares, is listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, we believe that we satisfy the listing threshold.

 

It is further required that with respect to each class of shares relied upon to meet the listing threshold, (i) such class of shares is traded on the market, other than in minimal quantities, on at least 60 days during the taxable year or one-sixth of the days in a short taxable year; and (ii) the aggregate number of shares of such class of shares traded on such market during the taxable year is at least 10% of the average number of shares of such class of shares outstanding during such year or as appropriately adjusted in the case of a short taxable year. We believe the Company will satisfy the trading frequency and trading volume tests. Even if this were not the case, the regulations provide that the trading frequency and trading volume tests will be deemed satisfied if, as is the case with the Company's common stock, such class of shares is traded on an established market in the United States and such shares are regularly quoted by dealers making a market in such shares.

 

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the regulations provide, in pertinent part, that a class of shares will not be considered to be ''regularly traded'' on an established securities market for any taxable year in which 50% or more of the vote and value of the outstanding shares of such class are owned, actually or constructively under specified share attribution rules, on more than half the days during the taxable year by persons who each own 5% or more of the vote and value of such class of outstanding shares, to which we refer as the ''5 Percent Override Rule.''

 

For purposes of being able to determine the persons who actually or constructively own 5% or more of the vote and value of the Company's common stock, or 5% Shareholders, the regulations permit the Company to rely on those persons that are identified on Schedule 13G and Schedule 13D filings with the SEC, as owning 5% or more of the Company's common stock. The regulations further provide that an investment company which is registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended, will not be treated as a 5% Shareholder for such purposes.

 

In the event the 5 Percent Override Rule is triggered, the regulations provide that the 5 Percent Override Rule will nevertheless not apply if the Company can establish that within the group of 5% Shareholders, there are sufficient qualified shareholders for purposes of Section 883 to preclude non-qualified shareholders in such group from owning 50% or more of the Company's common stock for more than half the number of days during the taxable year, which we refer to as the ''5 Percent Override Exception.''

 

Based on the ownership and trading of our stock in 2014, we believe that we satisfied the publicly traded test and qualified for the Section 883 exemption in 2014. However, as a result of the restructuring of our indebtedness pursuant to the Plan, 5% shareholders may beneficially own more than 50% of our stock for more than half of 2015. As a result, the 5% override rule may apply, and we believe that we would have significant difficulty in satisfying an exception thereto. It is also not clear whether we will satisfy one of the other two ownership tests. Thus, we may not qualify for the Section 883 exemption in 2015. Even if we do qualify for the Section 883 exemption in 2015, there can be no assurance that changes and shifts in the ownership of our stock by 5% shareholders will not preclude us from qualifying for the Section 883 exemption in future taxable years. 

 

Taxation in Absence of Section 883 Exemption

 

If the benefits of Section 883 are unavailable, the Company's United States source shipping income would be subject to a 4% tax imposed by Section 887 of the Code on a gross basis, without the benefit of deductions, to the extent that such income is not considered to be ''effectively connected'' with the conduct of a United States trade or business, as described below. Since under the sourcing rules described above, no more than 50% of the Company's shipping income would be treated as being United States source shipping income, the maximum effective rate of United States federal income tax on our shipping income would never exceed 2% under the 4% gross basis tax regime. Based on the current operation of our vessels, if we were subject to 4% gross basis tax, our United States federal income tax liability would be approximately $557,000, $325,000, and $600,000 for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, respectively. However, we can give no assurance that the operation of our vessels, which are under the control of third party charterers, will not change such that our United States federal income tax liability would be substantially higher.

 

To the extent the Company's United States source shipping income is considered to be ''effectively connected'' with the conduct of a United States trade or business, as described below, any such ''effectively connected'' United States source shipping income, net of applicable deductions, would be subject to United States federal income tax, currently imposed at rates of up to 35%. In addition, the Company may be subject to the 30% ''branch profits'' tax on earnings effectively connected with the conduct of such trade or business, as determined after allowance for certain adjustments, and on certain interest paid or deemed paid attributable to the conduct of the Company's United States trade or business.

 

 
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The Company's United States source shipping income would be considered ''effectively connected'' with the conduct of a United States trade or business only if:

 

  

the Company has, or is considered to have, a fixed place of business in the United States involved in the earning of United States source shipping income; and

  

substantially all of the Company's United States source shipping income is attributable to regularly scheduled transportation, such as the operation of a vessel that follows a published schedule with repeated sailings at regular intervals between the same points for voyages that begin or end in the United States.

 

The Company does not intend to have, or permit circumstances that would result in having, any vessel sailing to or from the United States on a regularly scheduled basis. Based on the foregoing and on the expected mode of the Company's shipping operations and other activities, we believe that none of the Company's United States source shipping income will be ''effectively connected'' with the conduct of a United States trade or business.

 

United States Taxation of Gain on Sale of Vessels

 

If the Company qualifies for exemption from tax under Section 883 in respect of the shipping income derived from the international operation of its vessels, then gain from the sale of any such vessel should likewise be exempt from tax under Section 883. If, however, the Company's shipping income from such vessels does not for whatever reason qualify for exemption under Section 883 and assuming that any decision on a vessel sale is made from and attributable to the United States office of the Company, as we believe likely to be the case as the Company is currently structured, then any gain derived from the sale of any such vessel will be treated as derived from United States sources and subject to United States federal income tax as ''effectively connected'' income (determined under rules different from those discussed above) under the above described net income tax regime.

 

United States Federal Income Taxation of United States Holders

 

As used herein, the term ''United States Holder'' means a beneficial owner of common stock that is an individual United States citizen or resident, a United States corporation or other United States entity taxable as a corporation, an estate the income of which is subject to United States federal income taxation regardless of its source, or a trust if a court within the United States is able to exercise primary jurisdiction over the administration of the trust and one or more United States persons have the authority to control all substantial decisions of the trust.

 

If a partnership holds our common stock, the tax treatment of a partner will generally depend upon the status of the partner and upon the activities of the partnership. If you are a partner in a partnership holding our common stock, you are encouraged to consult your tax advisor.

 

Distributions

 

Subject to the discussion of passive foreign investment companies below, any distributions made by the Company with respect to its common stock to a United States Holder will generally constitute dividends to the extent of the Company's current or accumulated earnings and profits, as determined under United States federal income tax principles. Distributions in excess of such earnings and profits will be treated first as a nontaxable return of capital to the extent of the United States Holder's tax basis in his common stock on a dollar-for-dollar basis and thereafter as capital gain. Because the Company is not a United States corporation, United States Holders that are corporations will not be entitled to claim a dividends received deduction with respect to any distributions they receive from us. Dividends paid with respect to the Company's common stock will generally be treated as ''passive category income'' for purposes of computing allowable foreign tax credits for United States foreign tax credit purposes.

 

Dividends paid on the Company's common stock to a United States Holder who is an individual, trust or estate (a ''United States Non-Corporate Holder'') will generally be treated as ''qualified dividend income'' that is taxable to such United States Non-Corporate Holder at preferential tax rates provided that (1) the common stock is readily tradable on an established securities market in the United States (such as the Nasdaq Global Select Market on which the Company's common stock is traded); (2) the Company is not a passive foreign investment company for the taxable year during which the dividend is paid or the immediately preceding taxable year (which we do not believe we have been, are or will be); (3) the United States Non-Corporate Holder has owned the common stock for more than 60 days in the 121-day period beginning 60 days before the date on which the common stock becomes ex-dividend; and (4) the United States Non-Corporate Holder is not under an obligation to make related payments with respect to positions in substantially similar or related property.

 

 
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There is no assurance that any dividends paid on the Company's common stock will be eligible for these preferential rates in the hands of a United States Non-Corporate Holder, although we believe that they will be so eligible. Any dividends out of earnings, and profits the Company pays, which are not eligible for these preferential rates will be taxed as ordinary income to a United States Non-Corporate Holder.

  

Special rules may apply to any ''extraordinary dividend''—generally, a dividend in an amount which is equal to or in excess of 10% of a shareholder's adjusted basis in a common share—paid by the Company. If the Company pays an ''extraordinary dividend'' on its common stock that is treated as ''qualified dividend income,'' then any loss derived by a United States Non-Corporate Holder from the sale or exchange of such common stock will be treated as long-term capital loss to the extent of such dividend.

 

Sale, Exchange or Other Disposition of Common Stock

 

Assuming the Company does not constitute a passive foreign investment company for any taxable year, a United States Holder generally will recognize taxable gain or loss upon a sale, exchange or other disposition of the Company's common stock in an amount equal to the difference between the amount realized by the United States Holder from such sale, exchange or other disposition and the United States Holder's tax basis in such stock. Such gain or loss will be treated as long-term capital gain or loss if the United States Holder's holding period is greater than one year at the time of the sale, exchange or other disposition. Such capital gain or loss will generally be treated as United States source income or loss, as applicable, for United States foreign tax credit purposes. Long-term capital gains of United States Non-Corporate Holders are currently eligible for reduced rates of taxation. A United States Holder's ability to deduct capital losses is subject to certain limitations.

 

Passive Foreign Investment Company Status and Significant Tax Consequences

 

Special United States federal income tax rules apply to a United States Holder that holds shares in a foreign corporation classified as a ''passive foreign investment company'' for United States federal income tax purposes. In general, the Company will be treated as a passive foreign investment company with respect to a United States Holder if, for any taxable year in which such holder holds the Company's common stock, either:

 

  

at least 75% of our gross income for such taxable year consists of passive income (e.g., dividends, interest, capital gains and rents derived other than in the active conduct of a rental business); or

   

at least 50% of the average value of our assets during such taxable year produce, or are held for the production of, passive income.

 

Income earned, or deemed earned, by the Company in connection with the performance of services would not constitute passive income. By contrast, rental income would generally constitute ''passive income'' unless the Company was treated under specific rules as deriving its rental income in the active conduct of a trade or business.

 

Based on the Company's current operations and future projections, we do not believe that the Company has been or is, nor do we expect the Company to become, a passive foreign investment company with respect to any taxable year. Although there is no legal authority directly on point, our belief is based principally on the position that, for purposes of determining whether the Company is a passive foreign investment company, the gross income it derives from its time chartering and voyage chartering activities should constitute services income, rather than rental income. Accordingly, such income should not constitute passive income, and the assets that the Company owns and operates in connection with the production of such income, in particular, the vessels, should not constitute passive assets for purposes of determining whether the Company is a passive foreign investment company. We believe there is substantial legal authority supporting our position consisting of case law and IRS pronouncements concerning the characterization of income derived from time charters and voyage charters as services income for other tax purposes. However, there is also authority which characterizes time charter income as rental income rather than services income for other tax purposes. In addition, we have obtained an opinion from our counsel, Seward & Kissel LLP, that, based upon the Company's operations as described herein, its income from time charters and voyage charters should not be treated as passive income for purposes of determining whether it is a passive foreign investment company. However, in the absence of any legal authority specifically relating to the statutory provisions governing passive foreign investment companies, the IRS or a court could disagree with our position. In addition, although the Company intends to conduct its affairs in a manner to avoid being classified as a passive foreign investment company with respect to any taxable year, we cannot assure you that the nature of its operations will not change in the future.

 

As discussed more fully below, if the Company were to be treated as a passive foreign investment company for any taxable year, a United States Holder would be subject to different taxation rules depending on whether the United States Holder makes an election to treat the Company as a ''Qualified Electing Fund,'' which election we refer to as a ''QEF election.'' As an alternative to making a QEF election, a United States Holder should be able to make a ''mark-to-market'' election with respect to the Company's common stock, as discussed below. In addition, if we were to be treated as a passive foreign investment company, a United States holder would be required to file an annual report with the Internal Revenue Service for that year with respect to such holder’s common stock.

 

 
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Taxation of United States Holders Making a Timely QEF Election

 

If a United States Holder makes a timely QEF election, which United States Holder we refer to as an ''Electing Holder,'' the Electing Holder must report for United States federal income tax purposes its pro rata share of the Company's ordinary earnings and net capital gain, if any, for each taxable year of the Company for which it is a passive foreign investment company that ends with or within the taxable year of the Electing Holder, regardless of whether or not distributions were received from the Company by the Electing Holder. No portion of any such inclusions of ordinary earnings will be treated as ''qualified dividend income.'' Net capital gain inclusions of United States Non-Corporate Holders would be eligible for preferential capital gains tax rates. The Electing Holder's adjusted tax basis in the common stock will be increased to reflect taxed but undistributed earnings and profits. Distributions of earnings and profits that had been previously taxed will result in a corresponding reduction in the adjusted tax basis in the common stock and will not be taxed again once distributed. An Electing Holder would not, however, be entitled to a deduction for its pro rata share of any losses that the Company incurs with respect to any year. An Electing Holder would generally recognize capital gain or loss on the sale, exchange or other disposition of the Company's common stock. A United States Holder would make a timely QEF election for shares of the Company by filing one copy of IRS Form 8621 with his United States federal income tax return for the first year in which he held such shares when the Company was a passive foreign investment company. If the Company were to be treated as a passive foreign investment company for any taxable year, the Company would provide each United States Holder with all necessary information in order to make the QEF election described above.

 

Taxation of United States Holders Making a ''Mark-to-Market'' Election

 

Alternatively, if the Company were to be treated as a passive foreign investment company for any taxable year and, as we anticipate, its shares are treated as "marketable stock", a United States Holder would be allowed to make a ''mark-to-market'' election with respect to the Company's common stock, provided the United States Holder completes and files IRS Form 8621 in accordance with the relevant instructions and related Treasury regulations. If that election is made, the United States Holder generally would include as ordinary income in each taxable year the excess, if any, of the fair market value of the common stock at the end of the taxable year over such holder's adjusted tax basis in the common stock. The United States Holder would also be permitted an ordinary loss in respect of the excess, if any, of the United States Holder's adjusted tax basis in the common stock over its fair market value at the end of the taxable year, but only to the extent of the net amount previously included in income as a result of the mark-to-market election. A United States Holder's tax basis in his common stock would be adjusted to reflect any such income or loss amount. Gain realized on the sale, exchange or other disposition of the Company's common stock would be treated as ordinary income, and any loss realized on the sale, exchange or other disposition of the common would be treated as ordinary loss to the extent that such loss does not exceed the net mark-to-market gains previously included by the United States Holder. No income inclusions under this election will be treated as "qualified dividend income."

 

Taxation of United States Holders Not Making a Timely QEF or Mark-to-Market Election

 

Finally, if the Company were to be treated as a passive foreign investment company for any taxable year, a United States Holder who does not make either a QEF election or a ''mark-to-market'' election for that year, whom we refer to as a ''Non-Electing Holder,'' would be subject to special rules with respect to (1) any excess distribution (i.e., the portion of any distributions received by the Non-Electing Holder on the common stock in a taxable year in excess of 125% of the average annual distributions received by the Non-Electing Holder in the three preceding taxable years, or, if shorter, the Non-Electing Holder's holding period for the common stock), and (2) any gain realized on the sale, exchange or other disposition of the Company's common stock. Under these special rules: 

 

 

the excess distribution or gain would be allocated ratably over the Non-Electing Holder's aggregate holding period for the common stock;

 

  

the amount allocated to the current taxable year, and any taxable year prior to the first taxable year in which the Company was a passive foreign investment company, would be taxed as ordinary income and would not be ''qualified dividend income''; and

     

  

the amount allocated to each of the other taxable years would be subject to tax at the highest rate of tax in effect for the applicable class of taxpayer for that year, and an interest charge for the deemed deferral benefit would be imposed with respect to the resulting tax attributable to each such other taxable year.

 

These special rules would not apply to a qualified pension, profit sharing or other retirement trust or other tax-exempt organization that did not borrow money or otherwise utilize leverage in connection with its acquisition of the Company's common stock. If the Company is a passive foreign investment company and a Non-Electing Holder who is an individual dies while owning the Company's common stock, such holder's successor generally would not receive a step-up in tax basis with respect to such shares.  

 

 
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United States Federal Income Taxation of ''Non-United States Holders''

 

A beneficial owner of common stock (other than a partnership) that is not a United States Holder is referred to herein as a "Non-United States Holder".  

 

If a partnership holds our common stock, the tax treatment of a partner will generally depend upon the status of the partner and upon the activities of the partnership. If you are a partner in a partnership holding our common stock, you are encouraged to consult your tax advisor.

 

Dividends on Common Stock

 

Non-United States Holders generally will not be subject to United States federal income tax or withholding tax on dividends received from the Company with respect to its common stock, unless that income is effectively connected with the Non-United States Holder's conduct of a trade or business in the United States. If the Non-United States Holder is entitled to the benefits of a United States income tax treaty with respect to those dividends, that income is taxable only if it is attributable to a permanent establishment maintained by the Non-United States Holder in the United States.

 

Sale, Exchange or Other Disposition of Common Stock

 

Non-United States Holders generally will not be subject to United States federal income tax or withholding tax on any gain realized upon the sale, exchange or other disposition of the Company's common stock, unless:

 

 

the gain is effectively connected with the Non-United States Holder's conduct of a trade or business in the United States (and, if the Non-United States Holder is entitled to the benefits of an income tax treaty with respect to that gain, that gain is attributable to a permanent establishment maintained by the Non-United States Holder in the United States); or

 

  

the Non-United States Holder is an individual who is present in the United States for 183 days or more during the taxable year of disposition and other conditions are met.

 

If the Non-United States Holder is engaged in a United States trade or business for United States federal income tax purposes, the income from the common stock, including dividends and the gain from the sale, exchange or other disposition of the shares, that is effectively connected with the conduct of that trade or business will generally be subject to regular United States federal income tax in the same manner as discussed in the previous section relating to the taxation of United States Holders. In addition, if you are a corporate Non-United States Holder, your earnings and profits that are attributable to the effectively connected income, which are subject to certain adjustments, may be subject to an additional branch profits tax at a rate of 30%, or at a lower rate as may be specified by an applicable income tax treaty.

 

Backup Withholding and Information Reporting

 

In general, dividend payments, or other taxable distributions, made within the United States to you will be subject to information reporting requirements if you are a non-corporate United States Holder. Such payments or distributions may also be subject to backup withholding tax if you are a non-corporate United States Holder and you: 

 

  fail to provide an accurate taxpayer identification number;
 

are notified by the IRS that you have failed to report all interest or dividends required to be shown on your federal income tax returns; or

 

in certain circumstances, fail to comply with applicable certification requirements.

 

Non-United States Holders may be required to establish their exemption from information reporting and backup withholding by certifying their status on an appropriate IRS Form W-8.

 

If you are a Non-United States Holder and you sell your common stock to or through a United States office of a broker, the payment of the proceeds is subject to both United States backup withholding and information reporting unless you certify that you are a non-United States person, under penalties of perjury, or you otherwise establish an exemption. If you sell your common stock through a non-United States office of a non-United States broker and the sales proceeds are paid to you outside the United States, then information reporting and backup withholding generally will not apply to that payment. However, United States information reporting requirements, but not backup withholding, will apply to a payment of sales proceeds, even if that payment is made to you outside the United States, if you sell your common stock through a non-United States office of a broker that is a United States person or has some other contacts with the United States. Such information reporting requirements will not apply, however, if the broker has documentary evidence in its records that you are a non-United States person and certain other conditions are met, or you otherwise establish an exemption.

 

 
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Backup withholding tax is not an additional tax. Rather, you generally may obtain a refund of any amounts withheld under backup withholding rules that exceed your income tax liability by filing a refund claim with the IRS.

 

Individuals who are United States Holders (and to the extent specified in applicable Treasury regulations, certain United States entities and Non-United States Holders) who hold “specified foreign financial assets” (as defined in Section 6038D of the Code) are required to file IRS Form 8938 with information relating to the asset for each taxable year in which the aggregate value of all such assets exceeds $75,000 at any time during the taxable year or $50,000 on the last day of the taxable year (or such higher dollar amount as prescribed by applicable Treasury regulations). Specified foreign financial assets would include, among other assets, our common shares, unless the shares are held through an account maintained with a United States financial institution. Substantial penalties apply to any failure to timely file IRS Form 8938, unless the failure is shown to be due to reasonable cause and not due to willful neglect. Additionally, in the event an individual United States Holder (and to the extent specified in applicable Treasury regulations, a United States entity and Non-United States Holders) that is required to file IRS Form 8938 does not file such form, the statute of limitations on the assessment and collection of United States federal income taxes of such holder for the related tax year may not close until three years after the date that the required information is filed.  United States Holders (including United States entities) and Non-United States Holders are encouraged to consult their own tax advisors regarding their reporting obligations under this legislation.

 

GLOSSARY OF SHIPPING TERMS

 

The following are definitions of shipping terms used in this Form 10-K.

 

Annual Survey—The inspection of a vessel by a classification society, on behalf of a flag state, that takes place every year.

 

Baltic Dry Index or BDI —The BDI is an index published by the Baltic Exchange which tracks worldwide international shipping prices of various dry bulk cargoes.  The index provides an assessment of the price for moving major raw materials by sea and is composed of 20 key shipping routes.

 

Baltic Exchange—Based in London, the Baltic Exchange is a market for the trading and settlement of shipping and freight contracts.  The exchange publishes daily freight market prices and maritime shipping cost indices, including: Baltic Dry Index (BDI), Baltic Supramax Index (BSI), Baltic Panamax Index (BPI), Baltic Capesize Index (BCI), Baltic Tanker Dirty Index (BDTI), and Baltic Tanker Clean Index (BCTI).

 

Baltic Supramax Index or BSI —The BSI is an index published by the Baltic Exchange which tracks worldwide international shipping prices of various dry bulk cargoes carried specifically by the Supramax class of vessels.

 

Bareboat Charter—Also known as "demise charter." Contract or hire of a ship under which the shipowner is usually paid a fixed amount of charter hire rate for a certain period of time during which the charterer is responsible for the operating costs and voyage costs of the vessel as well as arranging for crewing.

  

Bulk Vessels/Carriers—Vessels which are specially designed and built to carry large volumes of cargo in bulk cargo form.

 

Bunkers—Heavy fuel oil used to power a vessel's engines.

 

Capesize—A dry bulk carrier in excess of 100,000 dwt.

 

Charter—The hire of a vessel for a specified period of time or to carry a cargo for a fixed fee from a loading port to a discharging port. The contract for a charter is called a charterparty.

 

Charterer—The individual or company hiring a vessel.

 

Charter Hire Rate—A sum of money paid to the vessel owner by a charterer under a time charterparty for the use of a vessel.

 

Classification Society—An independent organization which certifies that a vessel has been built and maintained in accordance with the rules of such organization and complies with the applicable rules and regulations of the country of such vessel and the international conventions of which that country is a member.

 

 
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Contract of Affreightment or "COA"—An agreement providing for the transportation between specified points for a specific quantity of cargo over a specific time period but without designating specific vessels or voyage schedules, thereby allowing flexibility in scheduling since no vessel designation is required. COAs can either have a fixed rate or a market-related rate. 

 

Deadweight Ton—"dwt"—A unit of a vessel's capacity for cargo, fuel oil, stores and crew, measured in metric tons of 1,000 kilograms. A vessel's DWT or total deadweight is the total weight the vessel can carry when loaded to a particular load line.

 

Demise Charter—See bareboat charter.

 

Demurrage—Additional revenue paid to the shipowner on its Voyage Charters for delays experienced in loading and/or unloading cargo that are not deemed to be the responsibility of the shipowner, calculated in accordance with specific Charter terms.

 

Despatch —The amount payable by the shipowner if the vessel completes loading or discharging before the laytime has expired, calculated in accordance with specific charter terms.

 

Draft—Vertical Distance between the waterline and the bottom of the vessel's keel.

 

Dry Bulk—Non-liquid cargoes of commodities shipped in an unpackaged state.

 

Drydocking—The removal of a vessel from the water for inspection and/or repair of submerged parts.

 

Gross Ton—Unit of 100 cubic feet or 2.831 cubic meters used in arriving at the calculation of gross tonnage.

 

Handymax—A dry bulk carrier of approximately 35,000 to 60,000 dwt.

 

Handysize—A dry bulk carrier having a carrying capacity of up to approximately 35,000 dwt.

 

Hull—The shell or body of a vessel.

 

International Maritime Organization—"IMO"—A United Nations agency that issues international trade standards for shipping.

 

Intermediate Survey—The inspection of a vessel by a classification society surveyor which takes place between two and three years before and after each Special Survey for such vessel pursuant to the rules of international conventions and classification societies.

 

ISM Code—The International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention, as adopted by the IMO.

 

Metric Ton—A unit of measurement equal to 1,000 kilograms.

 

Newbuilding—A newly constructed vessel.

 

OPA—The United States Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (as amended).

 

Orderbook—A reference to currently placed orders for the construction of vessels (e.g., the Panamax orderbook).

 

Panamax—A dry bulk carrier of approximately 60,000 to 100,000 dwt of maximum length, depth and draft capable of passing fully loaded through the Panama Canal.

 

Protection & Indemnity Insurance—Insurance obtained through a mutual association formed by shipowners to provide liability insurance protection from large financial loss to one member through contributions towards that loss by all members.

 

Scrapping—The disposal of old or damaged vessel tonnage by way of sale as scrap metal.

 

Short-Term Time Charter—A time charter which lasts less than approximately 12 months.

 

Sister Ships—Vessels of the same class and specification which were built by the same shipyard.

 

SOLAS—The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974, as amended, adopted under the auspices of the IMO.

 

 
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Special Survey—The inspection of a vessel by a classification society surveyor which takes place a minimum of every four years and a maximum of every five years.

 

Spot Market—The market for immediate chartering of a vessel usually for single voyages.

 

Strict Liability—Liability that is imposed without regard to fault.

 

Supramax—A new class of Handymax dry bulk carrier of approximately 50,000 to 60,000 dwt.

 

Technical Management—The management of the operation of a vessel, including physically maintaining the vessel, maintaining necessary certifications, and supplying necessary stores, spares, and lubricating oils. Responsibilities also generally include selecting, engaging and training crew, and arranging necessary insurance coverage.

 

Time Charter—Contract for hire of a ship. A charter under which the ship-owner is paid charter hire rate on a per day basis for a certain period of time, the shipowner being responsible for providing the crew and paying operating costs while the charterer is responsible for paying the voyage costs. Any delays at port or during the voyages are the responsibility of the charterer, save for certain specific exceptions such as loss of time arising from vessel breakdown and routine maintenance.

 

Ton —A metric ton.

 

Voyage Charter—Contract for hire of a vessel under which a shipowner is paid freight on the basis of moving cargo from a loading port to a discharge port. The shipowner is responsible for paying both operating costs and voyage costs. The charterer is typically responsible for any delay at the loading or discharging ports.

 

Voyage Expenses—Includes fuel, port charges, canal tolls, cargo handling operations and brokerage commissions paid by the Company under Voyage Charters. These expenses are subtracted from shipping revenues to calculate Time Charter Equivalent revenues for Voyage Charters. 

 

Available Information

 

The Company makes available free of charge through its internet website, www.eagleships.com, its annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to these reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, as soon as reasonably practicable after the Company electronically files such material with, or furnishes it to, the SEC. You may read and copy any document we file with the SEC at the SEC's public reference facilities maintained by the SEC at 100 F Street, N.E., Room 1580, Washington, D.C. 20549. Please call the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330 for further information on the public reference facilities. Our SEC filings are also available to the public at the SEC's web site at http://www.sec.gov. The information on our website is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report.

  

ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

 

We operate in an intensely competitive industry. Some of the following risks relate principally to the industry in which we operate and our business in general. Other risks relate principally to the securities market, national and global economic conditions and the ownership of our common stock. The occurrence of any of the events described in this section could cause our results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements made in this report, and could significantly and negatively affect our business, financial condition or operating results.

 

Industry Specific Risk Factors 

 

Charter hire rates for dry bulk vessels are volatile and have declined significantly since their historic highs and may continue to decrease in the future, which may adversely affect our earnings, revenue and profitability and our ability to comply with our loan covenants.

 

The dry bulk shipping industry is cyclical with high volatility in charter hire rates and profitability. The degree of charter hire rate volatility among different types of dry bulk vessels has varied widely; however, the continued downturn in the drybulk charter market has severely affected the entire dry bulk shipping industry and charter hire rates for dry bulk vessels have declined significantly from historically high levels. The Baltic Dry Index (the “BDI”), a daily average of charter rates for key dry bulk routes published by The Baltic Exchange, which has long been viewed as the main benchmark to monitor the movements of the dry bulk vessel charter market and the performance of the entire dry bulk shipping market, declined 94% in 2008 from a peak of 11,793 in May 2008 to a low of 663 in December 2008 and has remained volatile since then. Since 2008, the BDI recorded a high of 4,661 in November 2009 and posted a low of 509 in February 2015. During 2014, the high and low reached 2,113 and 723, respectively. There can be no assurance that the drybulk charter market will increase further, and the market could decline.

 

 
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Fluctuations in charter rates result from changes in the supply of and demand for vessel capacity and changes in the supply of and demand for the major commodities carried by water internationally. Because the factors affecting the supply of and demand for vessels are outside of our control and are unpredictable, the nature, timing, direction and degree of changes in industry conditions are also unpredictable. If charter rates in the dry bulk market continue to decline and remain at low levels for any significant period in 2015, this will have an adverse effect on our revenues, profitability, cash flows and our ability to comply with the financial covenants in our loan agreements.

 

Factors that influence demand for dry bulk vessel capacity include:

 

 

supply of and demand for energy resources, commodities and industrial products;

 

changes in the exploration or production of energy resources, commodities, consumer and industrial products;

 

the location of regional and global exploration, production and manufacturing facilities;

 

the location of consuming regions for energy resources, commodities, semi-finished and finished consumer and industrial products;

 

the globalization of production and manufacturing;

 

global and regional economic and political conditions, including armed conflicts and terrorist activities; embargoes and strikes;

 

developments in international trade;

 

changes in seaborne and other transportation patterns, including the distance cargo is transported by sea;

 

environmental and other regulatory developments;

 

currency exchange rates; and

 

weather.

 

Factors that influence the supply of vessel capacity include:

 

 

the number of newbuilding deliveries;

 

port and canal congestion;

 

the scrapping of older vessels;

 

vessel casualties; 

 

slow steaming; and

 

the number of vessels that are out of service, namely those that are laid-up, drydocked, awaiting repairs or otherwise not available for hire.

 

In addition to the prevailing and anticipated freight rates, factors that affect the rate of newbuilding, scrapping and laying-up include newbuilding prices, secondhand vessel values in relation to scrap prices, costs of bunkers and other operating costs, costs associated with classification society surveys, normal maintenance and insurance coverage, the efficiency and age profile of the existing dry bulk fleet in the market and government and industry regulation of maritime transportation practices, particularly environmental protection laws and regulations. These factors influencing the supply of and demand for shipping capacity are outside of our control, and we may not be able to correctly assess the nature, timing and degree of changes in industry conditions.

 

We anticipate that the future demand for our dry bulk vessels will be dependent upon economic growth in the world's economies, including China and India, seasonal and regional changes in demand, changes in the capacity of the global dry bulk fleet and the sources and supply of dry bulk cargo to be transported by sea. Given the large number of new dry bulk carriers currently on order with the shipyards, the capacity of the global dry bulk carrier fleet seems likely to increase and there can be no assurance that economic growth will resume or continue. Adverse economic, political, social or other developments could have a material adverse effect on our business and operating results.

 

Because we employ most of our vessels on short-term time and voyage charters and charters whose revenues are directly tied to the Baltic Supramax Index, we are exposed to changes in the spot market and short-term charter rates for dry bulk carriers and such changes may affect our earnings and the value of our vessels at any given time. We cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully renew the charters for these vessels at rates sufficient to allow us to meet our obligations. If the very low charter rates in the dry bulk market continue to exist when we are required to renew these charters or in the future when our other charters must be renewed, this may have an adverse effect on our revenues, profitability, cash flows and our ability to comply with the financial covenants in our loan agreement.

 

 
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In addition, because the market value of our vessels may fluctuate significantly, we may incur losses when we sell vessels, which may adversely affect our earnings. If we sell vessels at a time when vessel prices have fallen and before we have recorded an impairment adjustment to our financial statements, the sale may be at less than the vessel's carrying amount on our financial statements, resulting in a loss and a reduction in earnings.

  

The current global economic environment may continue to negatively impact our business.

 

While economies in certain parts of the world are in the initial stages of recovery, growth in economies such as China that have historically led to increased demand for drybulk cargoes has decelerated. Decreasing demand for drybulk cargoes has led to lower demand for drybulk vessels, which combined with increased supply of drybulk vessels has created downward pressure on charter rates. General market volatility has endured as a result of uncertainty about sovereign debt and government austerity measures and speculation about the growth rate of the Chinese economy. The economies of the European Union and other parts of the world continue to experience relatively slow growth or exhibit weak economic trends.  If the current global economic environment persists or worsens, we may be negatively affected in the following ways:

 

 

We may not be able to employ our vessels at charter rates as favorable to us as historical rates or operate our vessels profitably.

     
  Our earnings and cash flows could remain at depressed levels or decline, which may leave us with insufficient cash resources to make required amortization payments under our credit facilities or cause us to breach one or more of the covenants in our credit facilities, thereby potentially accelerating the repayment of outstanding indebtedness. 
     
  The market values of our vessels have decreased, which may cause us to recognize losses if any of our vessels are sold or if their values are impaired. A further decline in the market value of our vessels could trigger defaults under our credit facilities’ covenants. 
     
  Our charterers may fail to meet their obligations under our time charter agreements.
     
  The value of our investment in Korean Line Corporation could further decline, and we may recognize additional losses if we were to sell our shares or if the value of our investment is impaired.

    

The occurrence of one or more of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition.

 

The current state of global financial markets and current economic conditions may adversely impact our ability to obtain additional financing or refinance our existing credit facility on acceptable terms, which may hinder or prevent us from operating or expanding our business.

 

Global financial markets and economic conditions have been, and continue to be, volatile. Recently, the debt and equity capital markets have been severely distressed. These issues, along with significant write-offs in the financial services sector, the re-pricing of credit risk and the current weak economic conditions, have made, and will likely continue to make, it difficult to obtain additional financing. The current state of global financial markets and current economic conditions might adversely impact our ability to issue additional equity at prices which will not be dilutive to our existing shareholders or preclude us from issuing equity at all.

 

Also, as a result of concerns about the stability of financial markets generally and the solvency of counterparties specifically, the cost of obtaining money from the credit markets has increased as many lenders have increased interest rates, enacted tighter lending standards, refused to refinance existing debt at all or on terms similar to current debt and reduced, and in some cases ceased, to provide funding to borrowers. Due to these factors, we cannot be certain that additional financing will be available if needed and to the extent required, or that we will be able to refinance our existing credit facility, on acceptable terms or at all. If additional financing or refinancing is not available when needed, or is available only on unfavorable terms, we may be unable to meet our obligations as they come due or we may be unable to enhance our existing business, complete additional acquisitions or otherwise take advantage of business opportunities as they arise. For more information on the Exit Financing Facility, see “Item 7 Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operation—Liquidity and Capital Resources.”

 

 
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The instability of the euro or the inability of countries to refinance their debts could have a material adverse effect on our revenue, profitability and financial position.

 

As a result of the credit crisis in Europe, the European Commission created the European Financial Stability Facility (the “EFSF”) and the European Financial Stability Mechanism (the “EFSM”) to provide funding to Eurozone countries in financial difficulties that seek such support. In September 2012, the European Council established a permanent stability mechanism, the European Stability Mechanism, or the ESM, to assume the role of the EFSF and the EFSM in providing external financial assistance to Eurozone countries. Despite these measures, concerns persist regarding the debt burden of some Eurozone countries, such as Greece, and their ability to meet future financial obligations and the overall stability of the euro. An extended period of adverse development in the outlook for European countries could reduce the overall demand for drybulk goods. These potential developments, or negative market perceptions, could affect our financial position, results of operations and cash flow.

 

Changes in the economic and political environment in China and policies adopted by the government to regulate its economy may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

The Chinese economy differs from the economies of most countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, in such respects as structure, government involvement, level of development, growth rate, capital reinvestment, allocation of resources, rate of inflation and balance of payments position. Prior to 1978, the Chinese economy was a planned economy. Since 1978, increasing emphasis has been placed on the utilization of market forces in the development of the Chinese economy. Annual and five year State Plans are adopted by the Chinese government in connection with the development of the economy. Although state-owned enterprises still account for a substantial portion of the Chinese industrial output, in general, the Chinese government is reducing the level of direct control that it exercises over the economy through State Plans and other measures. There is an increasing level of freedom and autonomy in areas such as allocation of resources, production, pricing and management and a gradual shift in emphasis to a "market economy" and enterprise reform. Limited price reforms were undertaken with the result that prices for certain commodities are principally determined by market forces. Many of the reforms are unprecedented or experimental and may be subject to revision, change or abolition based upon the outcome of such experiments. If the Chinese government does not continue to pursue a policy of economic reform, the level of imports to and exports from China could be adversely affected by changes to these economic reforms by the Chinese government, as well as by changes in political, economic and social conditions or other relevant policies of the Chinese government, such as changes in laws, regulations or export and import restrictions, all of which could, adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition.

 

The market values of our vessels have declined and may further decrease, which could limit the amount of funds that we can borrow or cause us to breach certain financial covenants in our current or future credit facilities and we may incur a loss if we sell vessels following a decline in their market value.

 

The fair market values of our vessels have generally experienced high volatility and have recently declined significantly. The market prices for secondhand Handymax and Supramax dry bulk carriers have recently decreased sharply from their historically high levels.  The fair market value of our vessels may continue to fluctuate depending on a number of factors, including: 

 

 

prevailing level of charter rates;

 

general economic and market conditions affecting the shipping industry;

 

types, sizes and ages of vessels;

 

supply of and demand for vessels;

 

other modes of transportation;

 

cost of newbuildings;

 

governmental or other regulations;

 

the need to upgrade secondhand and previously owned vessels as a result of charterer requirements, technological advances in vessel design or equipment or otherwise; and

 

technological advances.

 

Conversely, if vessel values are elevated at a time when we wish to acquire additional vessels, the cost of acquisition may increase and this could adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flow and financial condition.

 

Rising fuel, or bunker prices, may adversely affect profits.

 

While we generally do not bear the cost of fuel, or bunkers, for vessels operating on time charters, fuel is a significant factor in negotiating charter rates. As a result, an increase in the price of fuel beyond our expectations may adversely affect our profitability at the time of charter negotiation. Fuel is also a significant, if not the largest, expense in our shipping operations when vessels are under voyage charter. The price and supply of fuel is unpredictable and fluctuates based on events outside our control, including geopolitical developments, supply and demand for oil and gas, actions by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (“OPEC”) and other oil and gas producers, war and unrest in oil producing countries and regions, regional production patterns and environmental concerns. Further, fuel may become much more expensive in the future, which may reduce the profitability and competitiveness of our business versus other forms of transportation, such as truck or rail.

 

 
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Compliance with safety and other vessel requirements imposed by classification societies may be very costly and may adversely affect our business.

 

The hull and machinery of every commercial vessel must be classed by a classification society authorized by its country of registry. The classification society certifies that a vessel is safe and seaworthy in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations of the country of registry of the vessel and the Safety of Life at Sea Convention.

 

A vessel must undergo annual surveys, intermediate surveys and special surveys. In lieu of a special survey, a vessel’s machinery may be on a continuous survey cycle under which the machinery would be surveyed periodically over a five-year period. Every vessel is also required to be drydocked every two and a half to five years for inspection of its underwater parts.

 

Compliance with the above requirements may result in significant expense. If any vessel does not maintain its class or fails any annual, intermediate or special survey, the vessel will be unable to trade between ports and will be unemployable and uninsurable, which could negatively impact our results of operations and financial condition.

 

We are subject to complex laws and regulations, including environmental regulations that can adversely affect the cost, manner or feasibility of doing business.

  

Our operations are subject to numerous laws and regulations in the form of international conventions and treaties, national, state and local laws and national and international regulations in force in the jurisdictions in which our vessels operate or are registered, which can significantly affect the ownership and operation of our vessels. These regulations include, but are not limited to, OPA, CERCLA, the CAA, the CWA, the MTSA, requirements of the USCG Guard and the EPA, and regulations of the IMO, including MARPOL, as from time to time amended including designation of ECAs thereunder, SOLAS, as from time to time amended, the ISM Code, the International Convention on Load Lines of 1966, as from time to time amended, the IMO International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage of 1969, as from time to time amended and replaced by the 1992 protocol, and generally referred to as CLC, the IMO International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage of 2001, or the Bunker Convention, and European Union regulations. Compliance with such laws, regulations and standards, where applicable, may require installation of costly equipment or operational changes and may affect the resale value or useful lives of our vessels. We may also incur additional costs in order to comply with other existing and future regulatory obligations, including, but not limited to, costs relating to air emissions, the management of ballast and bilge waters, elimination of tin-based paint, maintenance and inspection, development and implementation of emergency procedures and insurance coverage or other financial assurance of our ability to address pollution incidents. These costs could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition. A failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations may result in administrative and civil penalties, criminal sanctions or the suspension or termination of our operations. Environmental laws often impose strict liability for remediation of spills and releases of oil and hazardous substances, which could subject us to liability without regard to whether we were negligent or at fault. Under OPA, for example, owners, operators and bareboat charterers are jointly and severally strictly liable for the discharge of oil within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone around the United States. Furthermore, the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and the subsequent release of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, or other events, may result in further regulation of the shipping industry, and modifications to statutory liability schemes, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. An oil spill could result in significant liability, including fines, penalties and criminal liability and remediation costs for natural resource damages under other federal, state and local laws, as well as third-party damages. We are required to satisfy insurance and financial responsibility requirements for potential oil (including marine fuel) spills and other pollution incidents. Although we have arranged insurance to cover certain environmental risks, there can be no assurance that such insurance will be sufficient to cover all such risks or that any claims will not have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition and our ability to pay dividends, if any, in the future. 

  

Further declines in charter rates and other market deterioration could cause us to incur impairment charges.

 

We evaluate the carrying amounts of our vessels to determine if events have occurred that would require an impairment of their carrying amounts. The recoverable amount of vessels is reviewed based on events and changes in circumstances that would indicate that the carrying amount of the assets might not be recovered. The review for potential impairment indicators and projection of future cash flows related to the vessels is complex and requires us to make various estimates including future freight rates, earnings from the vessels and discount rates. All of these items have been historically volatile.

 

 
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We evaluate the recoverable amount as the higher of fair value less costs to sell and value in use. If the recoverable amount is less than the carrying amount of the vessel, the vessel is deemed impaired. The carrying values of our vessels may not represent their fair market value in the future because the new market prices of second-hand vessels tend to fluctuate with changes in charter rates and the cost of newbuildings. Any impairment charges incurred as a result of declines in charter rates could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition.

 

An over-supply of dry bulk carrier capacity may prolong or further depress the current low charter rates, which may limit our ability to operate our dry bulk carriers profitably.

 

The market supply of drybulk carriers has been increasing as a result of the delivery of numerous newbuilding orders over the last few years. Newbuildings have been delivered in significant numbers since the beginning of 2006. The oversupply of drybulk carrier capacity has resulted in a reduction of charter hire rates, as evidenced by the low rates we have experienced during 2014. Currently, some of our spot market-related time charterers are at times unprofitable due the volatility associated with dry cargo freight rates. If market conditions persist, upon the expiration or termination of our vessels’ current non-spot charters, we may only be able to recharter our vessels at reduced or unprofitable rates, or we may not be able to charter these vessels at all. The occurrence of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition

 

A decrease in the level of China’s export of goods or an increase in trade protectionism could have a material adverse impact on our charterers’ business and, in turn, could cause a material adverse impact on our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows.

 

China exports considerably more goods than it imports. Our vessels may be deployed on routes involving trade in and out of emerging markets, and our charterers’ shipping and business revenue may be derived from the shipment of goods from the Asia Pacific region to various overseas export markets including the United States and Europe. Any reduction in or hindrance to the output of China-based exporters could have a material adverse effect on the growth rate of China’s exports and on our charterers’ business. For instance, the government of China has recently implemented economic policies aimed at increasing domestic consumption of Chinese-made goods. This may have the effect of reducing the supply of goods available for export and may, in turn, result in a decrease of demand for container shipping. Additionally, though in China there is an increasing level of autonomy and a gradual shift in emphasis to a “market economy” and enterprise reform, many of the reforms, particularly some limited price reforms that result in the prices for certain commodities being principally determined by market forces, are unprecedented or experimental and may be subject to revision, change or abolition. The level of imports to and exports from China could be adversely affected by changes to these economic reforms by the Chinese government, as well as by changes in political, economic and social conditions or other relevant policies of the Chinese government.

 

Our operations expose us to the risk that increased trade protectionism will adversely affect our business. If the incipient global recovery is undermined by downside risks and the recent economic downturn is prolonged, governments may turn to trade barriers to protect their domestic industries against foreign imports, thereby depressing the demand for shipping. Specifically, increasing trade protectionism in the markets that our charterers serve has caused and may continue to cause an increase in: (i) the cost of goods exported from China, (ii) the length of time required to deliver goods from China and (iii) the risks associated with exporting goods from China, as well as a decrease in the quantity of goods to be shipped.

 

Any increased trade barriers or restrictions on trade, especially trade with China, would have an adverse impact on our charterers’ business, operating results and financial condition and could thereby affect their ability to make timely charter hire payments to us and to renew and increase the number of their time charters with us. This could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition and our ability to pay dividends to our shareholders.

  

World events could affect our results of operations and financial condition.

 

Terrorist attacks such as those in New York on September 11, 2001, in London on July 7, 2005, and in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, as well as the threat of future terrorist attacks around the world, continues to cause uncertainty in the world’s financial markets and may affect our business, operating results and financial condition. Continuing conflicts and recent developments in the Middle East, including Egypt and North Africa, and the presence of U.S. or other armed forces in the Middle East, may lead to additional acts of terrorism and armed conflict around the world, which may contribute to further economic instability in the global financial markets. These uncertainties could also adversely affect our ability to obtain additional financing on terms acceptable to us or at all. In the past, political conflicts have also resulted in attacks on vessels, such as the attack on the MT Limburg , a vessel unaffiliated with us, in October 2002, mining of waterways and other efforts to disrupt international shipping, particularly in the Arabian Gulf region. Acts of terrorism and piracy have also affected vessels trading in regions such as the South China Sea and the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia. Any of these occurrences could have a material adverse impact on our operating results, revenues and costs.

 

 
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Acts of piracy on ocean-going vessels have had and may continue to have an adverse effect on our business.

 

Acts of piracy have historically affected ocean-going vessels trading in regions of the world such as the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean and in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia. Although the frequency of sea piracy worldwide decreased during 2014 as compared to 2013, sea piracy incidents continue to occur, particularly in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia and increasingly in the Gulf of Guinea and the West Coast of Africa, with dry bulk vessels and tankers particularly vulnerable to such attacks. If these piracy attacks occur in regions that are characterized as “war risk” zones, or Joint War Committee “war and strikes” listed areas, premiums payable for such coverage could increase significantly and such insurance coverage may be more difficult to obtain. In addition, crew costs, including due to employing onboard security guards, could increase in such circumstances. Furthermore, while we believe the charterer remains liable for charter payments when a vessel is seized by pirates, the charterer may dispute this and withhold charter hire until the vessel is released. A charterer may also claim that a vessel seized by pirates was not “on-hire” for a certain number of days and is therefore entitled to cancel the charter party, a claim that we would dispute. We may not be adequately insured to cover losses from these incidents, which could have a material adverse effect on us. In addition, any detention hijacking as a result of an act of piracy against our vessels, or an increase in cost, or unavailability, of insurance for our vessels, could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Our vessels may call on ports located in countries that are subject to restrictions imposed by the U.S. or other governments that could adversely affect our reputation and the market for our common stock.  

  

Although none of our vessels has called on ports located in countries subject to sanctions and embargoes imposed by the U.S. government and other authorities or countries identified by the U.S. government or other authorities as state sponsors of terrorism, such as Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria, from time to time on charterers’ instructions, our vessels may call on ports located in such countries in the future. The U.S. sanctions and embargo laws and regulations vary in their application, as they do not all apply to the same covered persons or proscribe the same activities, and such sanctions and embargo laws and regulations may be amended or strengthened over time. In 2010, the U.S. enacted the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Accountability and Divestment Act (“CISADA”), which amended the Iran Sanctions Act. Among other things, CISADA introduced limits on the ability of companies and persons to do business or trade with Iran when such activities relate to the investment, supply or export of refined petroleum or petroleum products. In 2012, President Obama signed Executive Order 13608 which prohibits foreign persons from violating or attempting to violate, or causing a violation of any sanctions in effect against Iran or facilitating any deceptive transactions for or on behalf of any person subject to U.S. sanctions. Any persons found to be in violation of Executive Order 13608 will be deemed a foreign sanctions evader and will be banned from all contacts with the United States, including conducting business in U.S. dollars. Also in 2012, President Obama signed into law the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (the “Iran Threat Reduction Act”), which created new sanctions and strengthened existing sanctions. Among other things, the Iran Threat Reduction Act intensifies existing sanctions regarding the provision of goods, services, infrastructure or technology to Iran's petroleum or petrochemical sector. The Iran Threat Reduction Act also includes a provision requiring the President of the United States to impose five or more sanctions from Section 6(a) of the Iran Sanctions Act, as amended, on a person the President determines is a controlling beneficial owner of, or otherwise owns, operates, or controls or insures a vessel that was used to transport crude oil from Iran to another country and (1) if the person is a controlling beneficial owner of the vessel, the person had actual knowledge the vessel was so used or (2) if the person otherwise owns, operates, or controls, or insures the vessel, the person knew or should have known the vessel was so used. Such a person could be subject to a variety of sanctions, including exclusion from U.S. capital markets, exclusion from financial transactions subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and exclusion of that person's vessels from U.S. ports for up to two years.

 

On November 24, 2013, the P5+1 (the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China) entered into an interim agreement with Iran entitled the “Joint Plan of Action” (“JPOA”). Under the JPOA it was agreed that, in exchange for Iran taking certain voluntary measures to ensure that its nuclear program is used only for peaceful purposes, the U.S. and EU would voluntarily suspend certain sanctions for a period of six months.

 

On January 20, 2014, the U.S. and E.U. indicated that they would begin implementing the temporary relief measures provided for under the JPOA. These measures include, among other things, the suspension of certain sanctions on the Iranian petrochemicals, precious metals, and automotive industries from January 20, 2014. Although it is our intention to comply with the provisions of the JPOA, there can be no assurance that we will be in compliance in the future as such regulations and U.S. Sanctions may be amended over time, and the U.S. retains the authority to revoke the aforementioned relief if Iran fails to meet its commitments under the JPOA.

 

Although we believe that we are in compliance with all applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations, and intend to maintain such compliance, there can be no assurance that we will be in compliance in the future, particularly as the scope of certain laws may be unclear and may be subject to changing interpretations. Any such violation could result in fines or other penalties and could severely impact our ability to access U.S. capital markets and conduct our business, and could result in some investors deciding, or being required, to divest their interest, or not to invest, in us. In addition, certain institutional investors may have investment policies or restrictions that prevent them from holding securities of companies that have contracts with countries identified by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism. The determination by these investors not to invest in, or to divest from, our common shares may adversely affect the price at which our common shares trade. Moreover, our charterers may violate applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations as a result of actions that do not involve us or our vessels, and those violations could in turn negatively affect our reputation. In addition, our reputation and the market for our securities may be adversely affected if we engage in certain other activities, such as entering into charters with individuals or entities in countries subject to U.S. sanctions and embargo laws that are not controlled by the governments of those countries, or engaging in operations associated with those countries pursuant to contracts with third parties that are unrelated to those countries or entities controlled by their governments. Investor perception of the value of our common shares may be adversely affected by the consequences of war, the effects of terrorism, civil unrest and governmental actions in these and surrounding countries.

 

 
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If economic conditions throughout the world do not improve, it will impede our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows, and could cause the market price of our common shares to further decline.

 

Continuing economic instability could have a material adverse effect on our ability to implement our business strategy. The United States, the European Union and other parts of the world have recently been or are currently in a recession and continue to exhibit weak economic trends. The credit markets in the United States and Europe have experienced significant contraction, deleveraging and reduced liquidity, and the U.S. federal and state governments and European authorities have implemented a broad variety of governmental action and/or new regulation of the financial markets and may implement additional regulations in the future. Securities and futures markets and the credit markets are subject to comprehensive statutes, regulations and other requirements. The SEC, other regulators, self-regulatory organizations and exchanges are authorized to take extraordinary actions in the event of market emergencies, and may effect changes in law or interpretations of existing laws. Global financial markets and economic conditions have been, and continue to be, severely disrupted and volatile. Credit markets and the debt and equity capital markets have been exceedingly distressed and the uncertainty surrounding the future of the credit markets in the United States and the rest of the world has resulted in reduced access to credit worldwide.

 

We face risks attendant to changes in economic environments, changes in interest rates, and instability in the banking and securities markets around the world, among other factors. Major market disruptions and the current adverse changes in market conditions and regulatory climate in the United States and worldwide may adversely affect our business or impair our ability to borrow amounts under our credit facilities or any future financial arrangements. We cannot predict how long the current market conditions will last. However, these recent and developing economic and governmental factors, together with the concurrent decline in charter rates and vessel values, may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows, have caused the trading price of our common shares on the Nasdaq Global Select Market to decline and could cause the price of our common shares to continue to decline.

 

A significant number of the port calls made by our vessels involve the loading or discharging of raw materials and semi-finished products in ports in the Asia Pacific region. As a result, a negative change in economic conditions in any Asia Pacific country, and particularly in China, India or Japan, could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends. In particular, in recent years, China has been one of the world’s fastest growing economies in terms of gross domestic product. China’s gross domestic product grew by 7.4% in 2014 as compared to a 7.7% growth rate in 2013. We cannot assure you that the Chinese economy will not experience a significant contraction in the future. If the Chinese government does not continue to pursue a policy of economic growth and urbanization, the level of imports to and exports from China could be adversely affected by changes to these initiatives by the Chinese government, as well as by changes in political, economic and social conditions or other relevant policies of the Chinese government, such as changes in laws, regulations or export and import restrictions. Notwithstanding economic reform, the Chinese government may adopt policies that favor domestic drybulk shipping companies and may hinder our ability to compete with them effectively. Moreover, a significant or protracted slowdown in the economies of the United States, the European Union or various Asian countries may adversely affect economic growth in China and elsewhere. Our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends will likely be materially and adversely affected by an economic downturn in any of these countries.

 

  

Our operating results will be subject to seasonal fluctuations, which could affect our operating results.

 

We operate our vessels in markets that have historically exhibited seasonal variations in demand and, as a result, in charter hire rates. This seasonality may result in volatility in our operating results to the extent that we enter into new charter agreements or renew existing agreements during a time when charter rates are weaker or we operate our vessels on the spot market or index based time charters, which may result in quarter-to-quarter volatility in our operating results. The dry bulk sector is typically stronger in the fall and winter months in anticipation of increased consumption of coal and other raw materials in the northern hemisphere. In addition, unpredictable weather patterns in these months tend to disrupt vessel scheduling and supplies of certain commodities. As a result, our revenues from our dry bulk carriers may be weaker during the fiscal quarters ended June 30 and September 30, and, conversely, our revenues from our dry bulk carriers may be stronger in fiscal quarters ended December 31 and March 31.

 

 
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We are subject to international safety regulations and the failure to comply with these regulations may subject us to increased liability, may adversely affect our insurance coverage and may result in a denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports .

 

The operation of our vessels is affected by the requirements set forth in the ISM Code.  The ISM Code requires ship owners, ship managers and bareboat charterers to develop and maintain an extensive “Safety Management System” that includes the adoption of a safety and environmental protection policy setting forth instructions and procedures for safe operation and describing procedures for dealing with emergencies. The failure of a shipowner or bareboat charterer to comply with the ISM Code may subject it to increased liability, may invalidate existing insurance or decrease available insurance coverage for the affected vessels and may result in a denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports.  Each of the vessels that has been delivered to us is ISM Code-certified and we expect that each other vessel that we have agreed to purchase will be ISM Code-certified when delivered to us. However, if we are subject to increased liability for non-compliance or if our insurance coverage is adversely impacted as a result of non-compliance, it may negatively affect our ability to pay dividends, if any, in the future. If any of our vessels are denied access to, or are detained in, certain ports, our revenues may be adversely impacted.

 

In addition, vessel classification societies also impose significant safety and other requirements on our vessels. In complying with current and future environmental requirements, vessel-owners and operators may also incur significant additional costs in meeting new maintenance and inspection requirements, in developing contingency arrangements for potential spills and in obtaining insurance coverage. Government regulation of vessels, particularly in the areas of safety and environmental requirements, can be expected to become stricter in the future and require us to incur significant capital expenditures on our vessels to keep them in compliance.

 

The operation of our vessels is also affected by other government regulation in the form of international conventions, national, state and local laws and regulations in force in the jurisdictions in which the vessels operate, as well as in the country or countries of their registration. Because such conventions, laws, and regulations are often revised, we cannot predict the ultimate cost of complying with such conventions, laws and regulations or the impact thereof on the resale prices or useful lives of our vessels. Additional conventions, laws and regulations may be adopted which could limit our ability to do business or increase the cost of our doing business and which may materially adversely affect our operations. We are required by various governmental and quasi-governmental agencies to obtain certain permits, licenses, certificates, and financial assurances with respect to our operations.

  

Increased inspection procedures and tighter import and export controls could increase costs and disrupt our business.

 

International shipping is subject to various security and customs inspection and related procedures in countries of origin and destination and trans-shipment points. Inspection procedures may result in the seizure of contents of our vessels, delays in the loading, offloading, trans-shipment or delivery and the levying of customs duties, fines or other penalties against us.

 

It is possible that changes to inspection procedures could impose additional financial and legal obligations on us. Changes to inspection procedures could also impose additional costs and obligations on our customers and may, in certain cases, render the shipment of certain types of cargo uneconomical or impractical. Any such changes or developments may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Risks associated with operating ocean going vessels could affect our business and reputation, which could adversely affect our revenues and stock price.

 

The operation of ocean going vessels carries inherent risks. These risks include the possibility of:

 

 

marine disaster;

 

environmental accidents;

 

cargo and property losses or damage;

 

business interruptions caused by mechanical failure, human error, war, terrorism, political action in various countries, labor strikes or adverse weather conditions; and

 

piracy.

 

These hazards may result in death or injury to persons, loss of revenues or property, environmental damage, higher insurance rates, damage to our customer relationships, delay or rerouting. If our vessels suffer damage, they may need to be repaired at a drydocking facility. The costs of drydock repairs are unpredictable and may be substantial. We may not have insurance that is sufficient to cover these costs or losses and may have to pay drydocking costs not covered by our insurance. The loss of earnings while these vessels are being repaired and repositioned, as well as the actual cost of these repairs, would decrease our earnings and reduce the amount of cash that we have available for dividends. In addition, space at drydocking facilities is sometimes limited and not all drydocking facilities are conveniently located. We may be unable to find space at a suitable drydocking facility or our vessels may be forced to travel to a drydocking facility that is not conveniently located to our vessels’ positions. Any of these circumstances or events could increase our costs or lower our revenues. The involvement of our vessels in an environmental disaster may harm our reputation as a safe and reliable vessel owner and operator.

 

 
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Our business has inherent operational risks, which may not be adequately covered by insurance.

 

The operation of our company has certain unique risks. With a dry bulk carrier, the cargo itself and its interaction with the vessel can be an operational risk. By their nature, dry bulk cargoes are often heavy, dense, easily shifted, and react badly to water exposure. In addition, dry bulk carriers are often subjected to battering treatment during unloading operations with grabs, jackhammers (to pry encrusted cargoes out of the hold) and small bulldozers. This treatment may cause damage to the vessel. Vessels damaged due to treatment during unloading procedures may be more susceptible to breach to the sea. Hull breaches in dry bulk carriers may lead to the flooding of the vessels’ holds. If a dry bulk carrier suffers flooding in its forward holds, the bulk cargo may become so dense and waterlogged that its pressure may buckle the vessel’s bulkheads leading to the loss of a vessel. If we are unable to adequately maintain our vessels we may be unable to prevent these events. Any of these circumstances or events could negatively impact our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to pay dividends, if any, in the future. In addition, the loss of any of our vessels could harm our reputation as a safe and reliable vessel owner and operator.

  

Our vessels and their cargoes are at risk of being damaged or lost because of events such as marine disasters, bad weather, mechanical failures, human error, environmental accidents, war, terrorism, piracy and other circumstances or events. In addition, transporting cargoes across a wide variety of international jurisdictions creates a risk of business interruptions due to political circumstances in foreign countries, hostilities, labor strikes and boycotts, the potential for changes in tax rates or policies, and the potential for government expropriation of our vessels. Any of these events may result in loss of revenues, increased costs and decreased cash flows to our customers, which could impair their ability to make payments to us under our charters.

 

In the event of a casualty to a vessel or other catastrophic event, we will rely on our insurance to pay the insured value of the vessel or the damages incurred. Through our management agreements with our technical managers, we procure insurance for the vessels in our fleet employed under time charters against those risks that we believe the shipping industry commonly insures against. These insurances include marine hull and machinery insurance, protection and indemnity insurance, which include pollution risks and crew insurances, and war risk insurance. Currently, the amount of coverage for liability for pollution, spillage and leakage available to us on commercially reasonable terms through protection and indemnity associations and providers of excess coverage is $1 billion per vessel per occurrence.

 

We have procured hull and machinery insurance, protection and indemnity insurance, which include environmental damage and pollution insurance coverage and war risk insurance for our fleet. We do not maintain, for our vessels, insurance against loss of hire, which covers business interruptions that result from the loss of use of a vessel. We may not be adequately insured against all risks. We may not be able to obtain adequate insurance coverage for our fleet in the future, and we may not be able to obtain certain insurance coverage, including insurance against charter party defaults, that we have obtained in the past on terms that are acceptable to us or at all. The insurers may not pay particular claims. Our insurance policies may contain deductibles for which we will be responsible and limitations and exclusions which may increase our costs or lower our revenue. Moreover, insurers may default on claims they are required to pay.

 

We cannot assure you that we will be adequately insured against all risks or that we will be able to obtain adequate insurance coverage at reasonable rates for our vessels in the future.  For example, in the past more stringent environmental regulations have led to increased costs for, and in the future may result in the lack of availability of, insurance against risks of environmental damage or pollution. Additionally, our insurers may refuse to pay particular claims. Any significant loss or liability for which we are not insured could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition.

 

Maritime claimants could arrest one or more of our vessels, which could interrupt our cash flow.

 

Crew members, suppliers of goods and services to a vessel, shippers of cargo and other parties may be entitled to a maritime lien against a vessel for unsatisfied debts, claims or damages. In many jurisdictions, a claimant may seek to obtain security for its claim by arresting a vessel through foreclosure proceedings. The arrest or attachment of one or more of our vessels could interrupt our cash flow and require us to pay large sums of money to have the arrest or attachment lifted. In addition, in some jurisdictions, such as South Africa, under the "sister ship" theory of liability, a claimant may arrest both the vessel which is subject to the claimant's maritime lien and any "associated" vessel, which is any vessel owned or controlled by the same owner. Claimants could attempt to assert "sister ship" liability against one vessel in our fleet for claims relating to another of our vessels.

 

 
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Governments could requisition our vessels during a period of war or emergency, resulting in a loss of earnings.

 

A government could requisition one or more of our vessels for title or for hire. Requisition for title occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and becomes her owner, while requisition for hire occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and effectively becomes her charterer at dictated charter rates. Generally, requisitions occur during periods of war or emergency, although governments may elect to requisition vessels in other circumstances. Although we would be entitled to compensation in the event of a requisition of one or more of our vessels, the amount and timing of payment would be uncertain. Government requisition of one or more of our vessels may negatively impact our revenues.

  

Failure to comply with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act could result in fines, criminal penalties, and an adverse effect on our business.

 

We may operate in a number of countries throughout the world, including countries known to have a reputation for corruption. We are committed to doing business in accordance with applicable anti-corruption laws and have adopted a code of business conduct and ethics which is consistent and in full compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (the “FCPA”). We are subject, however, to the risk that we, our affiliated entities or our or their respective officers, directors, employees and agents may take actions determined to be in violation of such anti-corruption laws, including the FCPA. Any such violation could result in substantial fines, sanctions, civil and/or criminal penalties, curtailment of operations in certain jurisdictions, and might adversely affect our business, results of operations or financial condition. In addition, actual or alleged violations could damage our reputation and ability to do business. Furthermore, detecting, investigating, and resolving actual or alleged violations is expensive and can consume significant time and attention of our senior management.

  

Company Specific Risk Factors 

 

If we default under our loan agreements, our lenders may act to accelerate our outstanding indebtedness under our credit facility, which would impact our ability to continue to conduct our business.   

 

At December 31, 2014, our outstanding debt is in the amount of $225 million. In addition, we have a $50 million undrawn revolving credit facility. Our debt matures on October 15, 2019. Amounts drawn under the Exit financing Facility bear interest at a rate of LIBOR plus the margin. The revolving credit facility is subject to an annual commitment fee of 40% of the margin.

 

The Company’s obligations under the Exit Financing Facility are secured by a first priority mortgage on each of the vessels in its fleet and such other vessels that it may from time to time include with the approval of the Exit Lenders, a first assignment of its earnings account, its liquidity account and its vessel-owning subsidiaries’ earnings accounts, a first assignment of all charters (having a term which may exceed 18 months), freights, earnings, insurances, requisition compensation and management agreements with respect to the vessels and a first priority pledge of the membership interests of each of its vessel-owning subsidiaries. The Company may grant additional security to the Exit Lenders from time to time in the future.

 

The Exit Financing Facility contains financial covenants requiring the Company, among other things, to ensure that: the aggregate market value of the vessels in the Company’s fleet at all times does not fall below between 150% and 165% of the aggregate principal amount of debt outstanding under the Exit Financing Facility; the total financial indebtedness of the Company and all of its subsidiaries on a consolidated basis divided by the sum of (i) the total shareholders’ equity for the Company and all of its subsidiaries (minus goodwill and other non-tangible items) and (ii) the total financial indebtedness of the Company and all of its subsidiaries on a consolidated basis, shall not be more than 0.65; the aggregate of the Company’s and its subsidiaries’ EBITDA will not be less than 2.5x of the aggregate amount of interest incurred and net amounts payable under interest rate hedging arrangements during the relevant particular period; and the Company maintains a minimum liquidity of not less than the greater of (i) $20,000,000 and (ii) $500,000 per vessel in the Company’s fleet. One of our covenants, the minimum interest coverage ratio is primarily driven off a trailing twelve month calculation of EBITDA. If the current weak drybulk rate environment persists for a long duration and charter hire rates decline further the Company may not be in compliance with this covenant as of its first determination date on December 2015. Accordingly, we may seek waivers or modifications to our credit agreement, which may be unavailable or subject to conditions. If we were to be unable to cure an event of default our debt could be called by the banks and all amounts then outstanding would be reclassified as a current liability and alternative sources of financing would need to be sought on terms that may not be favorable to the Company or the Company may need to seek additional capital through equity or debt offerings or through the sale of assets. Should such events happen, there can be no assurances that the Company would be able to procure alternate financing or sufficient sources of additional capital.

 

In addition, the Exit Financing Facility also imposes operating restrictions on the Company including limiting the Company’s ability to, among other things: pay dividends; incur additional indebtedness; create liens on assets; acquire and sell capital assets (including vessels); merge or consolidate with, or transfer all or substantially all of the Company’s assets to, another person; enter into a new line of business. The Company is obligated to repay the Exit Financing Facility in 20 equal consecutive quarterly repayment installments each in an amount of U.S. $3,906,250 and a balloon installment in an amount equal to the remaining aggregate principal of the Exit Financing Facility on the Maturity Date. The first installment of the Exit Financing Facility is to be repaid on the date falling three months after the first drawdown date of the facility and the last such installment on the Maturity Date.

 

The Exit Financing Facility also includes customary events of default, including those relating to a failure to pay principal or interest, a breach of covenant, representation or warranty, a cross-default to other indebtedness and non-compliance with security documents. Further, there would be a default if any event occurs or circumstances arise in light of which, in the Exit Lenders’ judgment, there is significant risk that the Company is or would become insolvent. The Company is not permitted to pay dividends if there is a default or a breach of a loan covenant under the Exit Financing Facility or if the payment of the dividends would result in a default or breach of a loan covenant or if the aggregate of cash and Cash Equivalents and undrawn but available amounts under the Revolving Loan Facility is equal to or greater than $30,000,000 plus $500,000 for each vessel owned by the Company. Indebtedness under the Exit Financing Facility may also be accelerated if the Company experiences a change of control.

 

 
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The failure of our charterers to meet their obligations under our time charter agreements, on which we depend for substantially all of our revenues, could cause us to suffer losses or otherwise adversely affect our business and ability to comply with covenants in our credit facilities.  

 

The ability and willingness of each of our counterparties to perform its obligations under a time charter agreement with us will depend on a number of factors that are beyond our control and may include, among other things, general economic conditions, the condition of the dry bulk shipping industry and the overall financial condition of the counterparties. Charterers are sensitive to the commodity markets and may be impacted by market forces affecting commodities, such as iron ore, coal, grain, and other minor bulks. In addition, in depressed market conditions, there have been reports of charterers, including some of our charter counterparties, defaulting on their obligations under charters, and our customers may fail to pay charter hire. Consistent with dry bulk shipping industry practice, we have not independently analyzed the creditworthiness of the charterers. In addition, given the depressed market conditions, our charterers may no longer need a vessel that is currently under charter or may be able to obtain a comparable vessel at lower rates. As a result, charterers may seek to renegotiate the terms of their existing charter parties or avoid their obligations under those contracts.

 

Should a counterparty fail to honor its obligations under its charter with us, it may be difficult to secure substitute employment for such vessel, and any new charter arrangements we secure in the spot market or on time charters would be at lower rates given currently decreased dry bulk carrier charter rate levels. If our charterers fail to meet their obligations to us or attempt to renegotiate our charter agreements, we could sustain significant losses which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, if any, in the future, and compliance with covenants in our credit facilities, certain of which specifically require the maintenance of minimum charter rate levels. 

 

We are dependent on spot charters and any decrease in spot charter rates in the future may adversely affect our earnings, our ability to pay dividends or meet our financial covenants on our indebtedness.  

 

We currently own a fleet of 45 vessels, of which all are employed for less than one year as of December 31, 2014, exposing us to fluctuations in spot market charter rates. Historically, the dry bulk market has been volatile as a result of the many conditions and factors that can affect the price, supply and demand for dry bulk capacity. The continuing global economic crisis may further reduce demand for transportation of dry bulk cargoes over longer distances and supply of dry bulk vessels to carry such dry bulk cargoes, which may materially affect our revenues, profitability and cash flows. The spot charter market may fluctuate significantly based upon supply of and demand for vessels and cargoes. The successful operation of our vessels in the competitive spot charter market depends upon, among other things, obtaining profitable spot charters and minimizing, to the extent possible, time spent waiting for charters and time spent traveling unladen to pick up cargo. The spot market is very volatile, and, in the past, there have been periods when spot rates have declined below the operating cost of vessels. If future spot charter rates decline, then we may be unable to operate our vessels trading in the spot market profitably, meet our obligations, including payments on indebtedness, or to pay dividends, if any, in the future. Furthermore, as charter rates for spot charters are fixed for a single voyage, which may last up to several weeks, during periods in which spot charter rates are rising, we will generally experience delays in realizing the benefits from such increases.

 

Our ability to renew the charters on all of 45 our vessels on the expiration or termination of our current charters, scheduled to expire in 2015, and the charter rates payable under any such replacement charters, will depend upon, among other things, economic conditions in the sectors in which our vessels operate at that time, changes in the supply of and demand for vessel capacity and changes in the supply of and demand for the seaborne transportation of energy resources.

  

The laws of the Marshall Islands generally prohibit the payment of dividends other than from surplus (retained earnings and the excess of consideration received for the sale of shares above the par value of the shares) or while a company is insolvent or would be rendered insolvent by the payment of such a dividend. We may not have sufficient surplus in the future to pay dividends and our subsidiaries may not have sufficient funds or surplus to make distributions to us. We can give no assurance that dividends will be paid at all.

 

 
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We may have difficulty managing our planned growth properly.

 

The acquisition and management of the 45 vessels in our operating fleet have imposed, and additional dry bulk vessels that we may acquire in the future will impose, significant responsibilities on our management and staff. The addition of vessels to our fleet may require us to increase the number of our personnel. Further, we are providing technical management services to certain of our vessels in house and expect to provide these services to additional vessels in our fleet.  We will also have to manage our customer base so that we can provide continued employment for our vessels upon the expiration of our existing time charters.

  

We intend to continue to grow our business. Our future growth will primarily depend on:

 

 

locating and acquiring suitable vessels;

 

obtaining required financing on acceptable terms;

 

identifying and consummating acquisitions or joint ventures;

 

enhancing our customer base; and

 

managing our expansion.

 

Growing any business by acquisition presents numerous risks, such as undisclosed liabilities and obligations, the possibility that indemnification agreements will be unenforceable or insufficient to cover potential losses and difficulties associated with imposing common standards, controls, procedures and policies, obtaining additional qualified personnel, managing relationships with customers and integrating newly acquired assets and operations into existing infrastructure. We cannot give any assurance that we will be successful in executing our growth plans or that we will not incur significant expenses and losses in connection with our future growth.

 

Purchasing and operating secondhand vessels may result in increased operating costs and reduced fleet utilization.

 

While we have the right to inspect previously owned vessels prior to purchase, such an inspection does not provide us with the same knowledge about their condition that we would have if these vessels had been built for and operated exclusively by us. A secondhand vessel may have conditions or defects that we were not aware of when we bought the vessel and which may require us to incur costly repairs to the vessel. These repairs may require us to put a vessel into dry dock, which would reduce our fleet utilization. Furthermore, we usually do not receive the benefit of warranties on secondhand vessels.

 

We are subject to certain risks with respect to our counterparties on contracts, and failure of such counterparties to meet their obligations could cause us to suffer losses or otherwise adversely affect our business.

 

We have entered into and may enter into in the future, among other things, charter agreements with our customers, credit facilities with banks and interest rate swap agreements. Such agreements subject us to counterparty risks. The ability of each of our counterparties to perform its obligations under a contract with us will depend on a number of factors that are beyond our control and may include, among other things, general economic conditions, the condition of the maritime industry, the overall financial condition of the counterparty, charter rates received for specific types of vessels, the supply and demand for commodities such as iron ore, coal, grain, and other minor bulks and various expenses. Should a counterparty fail to honor its obligations under agreements with us, we could sustain significant losses which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

  

We depend upon a few significant customers for a large part of our revenues and the loss of one or more of these customers could adversely affect our financial performance. 

 

We derive a significant part of our revenues from a small number of charterers. In 2014, for the period January 1 to October 15, one customer and Navig8 pool individually accounted for more than 10% of our time and voyage charter revenue, accounting for approximately 10.5% and 17.7% of our revenue, respectively. For the period October 16 to December 31, 2014, the Navig8 pool accounted for approximately 27.7% of our revenue. The charterers' payments to us under their charters are our sole source of revenue. Some of our charterers are privately owned companies for which limited credit and financial information was available to us in making our assessment of counterparty risk when we entered into our charter. In addition, the ability of each of our charterers to perform its obligations under a charter will depend on a number of factors that are beyond our control. These factors may include general economic conditions, the condition of the dry bulk shipping industry, the charter rates received for specific types of vessels and various operating expenses. If one or more of these charterers terminates its charter or chooses not to re-charter our vessel or is unable to perform under its charter with us and we are not able to find a replacement charter, we could suffer a loss of revenues that could adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations and cash available for distribution as dividends to our shareholders. In addition, we may be required to change the flagging or registration of the related vessel and may incur additional costs, including maintenance and crew costs if a charterer were to default on its obligations. Our shareholders do not have any recourse against our charterers. 

 

 
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In the highly competitive international shipping industry, we may not be able to compete for charters with new entrants or established companies with greater resources, and as a result, we may be unable to employ our vessels profitably.

 

Our vessels are employed in a highly competitive market that is capital intensive and highly fragmented. Competition arises primarily from other vessel owners, some of whom have substantially greater resources than we do. Competition for the transportation of dry bulk cargo by sea is intense and depends on price, location, size, age, condition and the acceptability of the vessel and its operators to the charterers. Due in part to the highly fragmented market, competitors with greater resources could enter the dry bulk shipping industry and operate larger fleets through consolidations or acquisitions and may be able to offer lower charter rates and higher quality vessels than we are able to offer. If we are unable to successfully compete with other dry bulk shipping companies, our results of operations would be adversely impacted.

 

We may be unable to attract and retain key management personnel and other employees in the shipping industry, which may negatively impact the effectiveness of our management and results of operations.

 

Our success depends to a significant extent upon the abilities and efforts of our management team. Our success will depend upon our ability to retain key members of our management team and to hire new members as may be necessary. The loss of any of these individuals could adversely affect our business prospects and financial condition. Difficulty in hiring and retaining replacement personnel could have a similar effect. We do not maintain "key man" life insurance on any of our officers.

 

The aging of our fleet may result in increased operating costs in the future, which could adversely affect our earnings.

 

In general, the cost of maintaining a vessel in good operating condition increases with the age of the vessel. Although the weighted average age of the 45 dry bulk vessels in our operating fleet as of December 31, 2014 was approximately 7.6 years, as our fleet ages, we will incur increased costs. Older vessels are typically less fuel efficient and more costly to maintain than more recently constructed vessels due to improvements in engine technology. Cargo insurance rates increase with the age of a vessel, making older vessels less desirable to charterers. Governmental regulations and safety or other equipment standards related to the age of vessels may also require expenditures for alterations or the addition of new equipment, to our vessels and may restrict the type of activities in which our vessels may engage. We cannot assure you that, as our vessels age, market conditions will justify those expenditures or enable us to operate our vessels profitably during the remainder of their useful lives.

 

Technological innovation could reduce our charter hire income and the value of our vessels.

 

The charter hire rates and the value and operational life of a vessel are determined by a number of factors including the vessel's efficiency, operational flexibility and physical life.  Efficiency includes speed, fuel economy and the ability to load and discharge cargo quickly.  Flexibility includes the ability to enter harbors, utilize related docking facilities and pass through canals and straits.  The length of a vessel's physical life is related to its original design and construction, its maintenance and the impact of the stress of operations.  If new dry bulk carriers are built that are more efficient or more flexible or have longer physical lives than our vessels, competition from these more technologically advanced vessels could adversely affect the amount of charter hire payments we receive for our vessels once their initial charters expire and the resale value of our vessels could significantly decrease.  As a result, our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition could be adversely affected.

  

We may be subject to litigation that, if not resolved in our favor and not sufficiently insured against, could have a material adverse effect on us.

 

We may be, from time to time, involved in various litigation matters. These matters may include, among other things, contract disputes, personal injury claims, environmental claims or proceedings, asbestos and other toxic tort claims, employment matters, governmental claims for taxes or duties, and other litigation that arises in the ordinary course of our business. Although we intend to defend these matters vigorously, we cannot predict with certainty the outcome or effect of any claim or other litigation matter, and the ultimate outcome of any litigation or the potential costs to resolve them may have a material adverse effect on us. Insurance may not be applicable or sufficient in all cases and/or insurers may not remain solvent which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition.

 

 
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We may have to pay tax on United States source income, which would reduce our earnings.

 

Under the United States Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code, 50% of the gross shipping income of a vessel owning or chartering corporation, such as ourselves and our subsidiaries, that is attributable to transportation that begins or ends, but that does not both begin and end, in the United States is characterized as United States source shipping income and such income is subject to a 4% United States federal income tax without allowance for any deductions, unless that corporation qualifies for exemption from tax under Section 883 of the Code and the Treasury regulations promulgated thereunder.

 

We believe that we and each of our subsidiaries qualify for this statutory tax exemption for our 2014 taxable year and we will take this position for United States federal income tax return reporting purposes. However, there are factual circumstances beyond our control that could cause us to lose the benefit of this tax exemption and thereby cause us to become subject to United States federal income tax on our United States source shipping income. For example, there is a risk that we could no longer qualify for exemption under Section 883 of the Code for a particular taxable year if one or more shareholders with a five percent or greater interest in our stock, in combination, were to own 50% or more of our outstanding shares of our stock on more than half the days during the taxable year. Based on the ownership of our stock following our October 15, 2014 emergence from bankruptcy (as reflected on the holdings of investors reported on Schedules 13D and 13G), we believe that five percent or greater shareholders currently own 50% of more of our stock. If such five percent holders were to continue to own more than 50% of our stock for more than half the days of any taxable year, we may not be able to claim exemption from tax under Section 883 of the Code. Due to the factual nature of the issues involved, we can give no assurances on our tax-exempt status or that of any of our subsidiaries.

 

In addition, changes in the Code, the Treasury regulations or the interpretation thereof by the Internal Revenue Service or the courts could adversely affect our ability to take advantage of the exemption under Section 883.

 

If we are not entitled to this exemption under Section 883 for any taxable year, we would be subject for such taxable year to a 4% United States federal income tax on our United States source shipping income. The imposition of this taxation could have a negative effect on our business and would result in decreased earnings available for distribution to our stockholders.

 

Based on the current operation of our vessels, if we were subject to this tax, our United States federal income tax liability would be approximately $557,000, $325,000 and $600,000 for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, respectively. Because the operations of our vessels are under the control of third party charterers, we can give no assurance that our United States federal income tax liability would be substantially higher. However, since no more that 50% of our shipping income would be treated as derived from U.S. sources, our maximum tax liability under the 4% tax regime would never exceed 2% of our shipping income.

  

United States tax authorities could treat us as a "passive foreign investment company," which could have adverse United States federal income tax consequences to United States holders.

 

A foreign corporation will be treated as a "passive foreign investment company," or PFIC, for United States federal income tax purposes if either (1) at least 75% of its gross income for any taxable year consists of certain types of "passive income" or (2) at least 50% of the average value of the corporation's assets produce or are held for the production of those types of "passive income." For purposes of these tests, "passive income" includes dividends, interest, and gains from the sale or exchange of investment property and rents and royalties other than rents and royalties which are received from unrelated parties in connection with the active conduct of a trade or business. For purposes of these tests, income derived from the performance of services does not constitute "passive income." United States stockholders of a PFIC are subject to a disadvantageous United States federal income tax regime with respect to the income derived by the PFIC, the distributions they receive from the PFIC and the gain, if any, they derive from the sale or other disposition of their shares in the PFIC.

 

Based on our current method of operation, we do not believe that we have been, are or will be a PFIC with respect to any taxable year. In this regard, we intend to treat the gross income we derive or are deemed to derive from our time chartering activities as services income, rather than rental income. Accordingly, we believe that our income from our time chartering activities does not constitute "passive income," and the assets that we own and operate in connection with the production of that income do not constitute passive assets.

 

There is, however, no direct legal authority under the PFIC rules addressing our method of operation. Accordingly, no assurance can be given that the United States Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, or a court of law will accept our position, and there is a risk that the IRS or a court of law could determine that we are a PFIC. Moreover, no assurance can be given that we would not constitute a PFIC for any future taxable year if there were to be changes in the nature and extent of our operations.

 

If the IRS were to find that we are or have been a PFIC for any taxable year, our United States stockholders would face adverse United States tax consequences and information reporting obligations. Under the PFIC rules, unless those stockholders made an election available under the Code (which election could itself have adverse consequences for such stockholders, as discussed below under "United States Federal Income Taxation of United States Holders"), such stockholders would be liable to pay United States federal income tax upon excess distributions and upon any gain from the disposition of our common stock at the then prevailing income tax rates applicable to ordinary income plus interest as if the excess distribution or gain had been recognized ratably over the stockholder's holding period of our common stock. Please see the section of this Form 10-K entitled "Tax Considerations" for a more comprehensive discussion of the United States federal income tax consequences to United States stockholders if we are treated as a PFIC.

 

 
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We are a holding company, and we depend on the ability of our subsidiaries to distribute funds to us in order to satisfy our financial obligations and to make dividend payments.

 

We are a holding company and our subsidiaries conduct all of our operations and own all of our operating assets. We have no significant assets other than the equity interests in our subsidiaries. As a result, our ability to satisfy our financial obligations and to make dividend payments in the future depends on our subsidiaries and their ability to distribute funds to us. If we are unable to obtain funds from our subsidiaries, our board of directors may exercise its discretion not to declare or pay dividends. We do not intend to obtain funds from other sources to pay dividends. We do not currently expect to pay dividends in the near term.

 

As we expand our business, we may need to improve our operating and financial systems and will need to recruit suitable employees and crew for our vessels.

 

Our current operating and financial systems may not be adequate if we expand the size of our fleet in the future, and our attempts to improve those systems may be ineffective. In addition, if we further expand our fleet, we will need to recruit suitable additional seafarers and shore side administrative and management personnel. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to hire suitable employees as we expand our fleet. If we or our crewing agent encounters business or financial difficulties, we may not be able to adequately staff our vessels. If we are unable to grow our financial and operating systems or to recruit suitable employees as we expand our fleet, our financial performance may be adversely affected and, among other things, the amount of cash available for distribution as dividends to our stockholders may be reduced. 

 

Investment in derivative instruments, such as forward freight and swap agreements, could result in losses.

 

From time to time, we may take positions in derivative instruments, including freight forward agreements (“FFAs”). FFAs and other derivative instruments may be used to hedge a vessel owner's exposure to the charter market by providing for the sale of a contracted charter rate along a specified route and period of time. Upon settlement, if the contracted charter rate is less than the average of the rates, as reported by an identified index, for the specified route and period, the seller of the FFA is required to pay the buyer an amount equal to the difference between the contracted rate and the settlement rate, multiplied by the number of days in the specified period. Conversely, if the contracted rate is greater than the settlement rate, the buyer is required to pay the seller the settlement sum. If we take positions in FFAs or other derivative instruments and do not correctly anticipate charter rate movements over the specified route and time period, we could suffer losses in the settling or termination of the FFA. This could adversely affect our results of operations and cash flows.

  

In addition, we may enter into interest rate swaps effectively convert a portion of our debt from a floating to a fixed-rate basis. Under these swap contracts, exclusive of applicable margins, we pay fixed rate interest and receive floating-rate interest amounts based on three-month LIBOR settings. The swaps are designated and qualify as cash flow hedges. Our hedging strategies, however, may not be effective and we may incur substantial losses if interest rates move materially differently from our expectations. In addition, our financial condition could be materially adversely affected to the extent we do not hedge our exposure to interest rate fluctuations under our financing arrangements. Any hedging activities we engage in may not effectively manage our interest rate exposure or have the desired impact on our financial conditions or results of operations. At December 31, 2014, we didn't enter into interest rate swaps.

 

If the recent volatility in LIBOR continues, it could affect our profitability, earnings and cash flow.

 

LIBOR has recently been volatile, with the spread between LIBOR and the prime lending rate widening significantly at times. These conditions are the result of the recent disruptions in the international credit markets. Because the interest rate borne by our outstanding indebtedness fluctuates with changes in LIBOR, if this volatility were to continue, it would affect the amount of interest payable on our debt, which in turn, could have an adverse effect on our profitability, earnings and cash flow.

 

Furthermore, interest in most loan agreements in our industry has been based on published LIBOR rates. Recently, however, lenders have insisted on provisions that entitle the lenders, in their discretion, to replace published LIBOR as the base for the interest calculation with their cost-of-funds rate. If we are required to agree to such a provision in future loan agreements, our lending costs could increase.

 

 
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As a result of the adoption of fresh-start reporting, our consolidated balance sheets and consolidated statements of operations subsequent to October 15, 2014 will not be comparable in many respects to our consolidated balance sheets and consolidated statements of operations prior to October 15, 2014.

 

Following the consummation of the Plan, our financial condition and results of operations from and after the Effective Date will not be comparable to the financial condition or results of operations reflected in our historical financial statements due to the application of fresh-start reporting. Fresh-start reporting requires us to adjust our assets and liabilities to their estimated fair values using the acquisition method. Adjustments to the carrying amounts were material and will affect prospective results of operations as balance sheet items are settled, depreciated, amortized or impaired. As a result, this will make it difficult to assess our performance in relation to prior periods.

 

The Chapter 11 proceedings may have disrupted our business and may have materially and adversely affected our operations.

 

We have attempted to minimize the adverse effect of our Chapter 11 reorganization on our relationships with our employees, suppliers, customers and other parties. Nonetheless, our relationships with our customers, suppliers, certain liquidity providers and employees may have been adversely impacted and our operations, currently and going forward, could have been materially and adversely affected.

 

We conduct business in China, where the legal system is not fully developed and has inherent uncertainties that could limit the legal protections available to us.

 

Some of our vessels may be chartered to Chinese customers or from time to time on our charterers’ instructions, our vessels may call on Chinese ports. Such charters and any additional charters that we enter into may be subject to new regulations in China that may require us to incur new or additional compliance or other administrative costs and may require that we pay to the Chinese government new taxes or other fees. Changes in laws and regulations, including with regards to tax matters, and their implementation by local authorities could affect our vessels chartered to Chinese customers as well as our vessels calling to Chinese ports and could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Risks Relating to Our Common Stock

 

 We are incorporated in the Marshall Islands, which does not have a well-developed body of corporate law.

 

Our corporate affairs are governed by our amended and restated articles of incorporation and bylaws and by the Marshall Islands Business Corporations Act (the “BCA”). The provisions of the BCA resemble provisions of the corporation laws of a number of states in the United States. However, there have been few judicial cases in the Marshall Islands interpreting the BCA. The rights and fiduciary responsibilities of directors under the laws of the Marshall Islands are not as clearly established as the rights and fiduciary responsibilities of directors under statutes or judicial precedent in existence in the United States. The rights of stockholders of companies incorporated in the Marshall Islands may differ from the rights of stockholders of companies incorporated in the United States. While the BCA provides that it is to be interpreted according to the laws of the State of Delaware and other states with substantially similar legislative provisions, there have been few, if any, court cases interpreting the BCA in the Marshall Islands and we can’t predict whether Marshall Islands courts would reach the same conclusions as United States courts. Thus, you may have more difficulty in protecting your interests in the face of actions by the management, directors or controlling stockholders than would stockholders of a corporation incorporated in a United States jurisdiction which has developed a relatively more substantial body of case law.

  

The market price of our common shares has fluctuated widely and may continue to fluctuate in the future.

 

The market price of our common shares has fluctuated widely since we became a public company in June 2005 and may continue to do so as a result of many factors, including our actual results of operations and perceived prospects, the prospects of our competition and of the shipping industry in general and in particular the dry bulk sector, differences between our actual financial and operating results and those expected by investors and analysts, changes in analysts’ recommendations or projections, changes in general valuations for companies in the shipping industry, particularly the dry bulk sector, changes in general economic or market conditions and broad market fluctuations.

 

 
46

 

 

The public market for our common shares may not be active and liquid enough for you to resell our common shares in the future.

 

We maintained our NASDAQ listing throughout our Chapter 11 proceeding. We cannot assure you that an active or liquid public market for our common stock will redevelop. Since 2008, the stock market has experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations. If the volatility in the market continues or worsens, it could continue to have an adverse effect on the market price of our common shares and could impact a potential sale price if holders of our common stock decide to sell their shares.

 

The seaborne transportation industry has been highly unpredictable and volatile. The market for common shares in this industry may be equally volatile. The market price of our common shares may be influenced by many factors, many of which are beyond our control, including:

 

 

actual or anticipated fluctuations in our quarterly and annual results and those of other public companies in our industry;

 

announcements by us or our competitors of significant contracts, acquisitions or capital commitments;

 

mergers and strategic alliances in the shipping industry;

 

terrorist acts;

 

future sales of our common shares or other securities;

 

market conditions in the shipping industry;

 

economic and regulatory trends;

 

shortfalls in our operating results from levels forecast by securities analysts;

 

announcements concerning us or our competitors;

 

the general state of the securities market; and

 

investors’ perception of us and the dry bulk shipping industry.

 

As a result of these and other factors, investors in our common stock may not be able to resell their shares at or above the price they paid for such shares. These broad market and industry factors may materially reduce the market price of our common shares, regardless of our operating performance.

 

Certain shareholders own large portions of our outstanding common stock, which may limit your ability to influence our actions.

 

Certain shareholders currently hold significant percentages of our post-restructuring common stock. As of December 31, 2014, affiliates of Oaktree Capital Group Holdings GP, LLC owned approximately 41%; affiliates of Canyon Capital Advisors LLC owned approximately 12%; and affiliates of Davidson Kempner Capital Management LP owned approximately 11% of our common stock.

 

To the extent a significant percentage of the ownership of our common stock is concentrated in a small number of holders, such holders will be able to influence the outcome of any shareholder vote, including the election of directors, the adoption or amendment of provisions in our articles of incorporation or by-laws and possible mergers, corporate control contests and other significant corporate transactions. This concentration of ownership may have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a change in control, merger, consolidation, takeover or other business combination involving us. This concentration of ownership could also discourage a potential acquirer from making a tender offer or otherwise attempting to obtain control of us, which could in turn have an adverse effect on the market price of our common stock.

 

Future sales of our common stock could cause the market price of our common stock to decline.

 

Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market, or the perception that these sales could occur, may depress the market price for our common stock. These sales could also impair our ability to raise additional capital through the sale of our equity securities in the future. Our amended and restated articles of incorporation authorize us to issue 150,000,000 shares of common stock, of which 37,504,541 shares were issued and outstanding as of December 31, 2014. We intend to issue additional shares of our common stock in the future. Our shareholders may incur dilution from any future equity offering and upon the issuance of additional shares of our common stock upon the exercise of options we have granted to certain of our executive officers or upon the issuance of additional shares of common stock pursuant to our equity incentive plan. In addition, we have a Registration Rights Agreement in favor of certain of our shareholders. Sales of our common stock by one or more of those holders could lower the trading price of our shares.

 

Our shareholders are limited in their ability to elect or remove directors.

 

The Second Amended Articles prohibit cumulative voting in the election of directors. The Second Amended By-laws require parties other than the board of directors to give advance written notice of nominations for the election of directors. The Second Amended Articles also provide that directors may only be removed for cause upon the affirmative vote of a majority of the outstanding shares of capital stock entitled to vote for the election of directors. Newly created directorships resulting from an increase in the number of directors and vacancies occurring in the board of directors for any reason may only be filled by a majority of the directors then in office, even if less than a quorum exists.

 

 
47

 

 

Our shareholders may take action only at Annual or Special Meetings.

  

The Second Amended Articles and the Second Amended By-Laws provide that any action required or permitted to be taken by shareholders must be effected at a duly called annual or special meeting of shareholders. Except as otherwise mandated by law, shareholders may not act by written consent.

 

Under the Second Amended By-Laws, annual shareholder meetings will be held at a time and place selected by the board of directors. The meetings may be held in or outside of the Marshall Islands. These provisions may impede shareholders’ ability to take actions with respect to the Company that they deem appropriate or advisable.

 

The Second Amended Articles and the Second Amended By-Laws provide that, except as otherwise required by law, special meetings of shareholders may be called at any time only by (i) the lead director (if any), (ii) the chairman of the board of directors, (iii) the board of directors pursuant to a resolution duly adopted by a majority of the board stating the purpose or purposes thereof, or (iv) any one or more shareholders who beneficially owns, in the aggregate, 15% or more of the aggregate voting power of all then-outstanding shares of Voting Stock. The notice of any such special meeting is to include the purpose or purposes thereof, and the business transacted at the special meeting is limited to the purpose or purposes stated in the notice (or any supplement thereto). These provisions may impede the ability of stockholders to bring matters before a special meeting of stockholders.

 

The board of directors may set a record date between 15 and 60 days before the date of any meeting to determine the shareholders that will be eligible to receive notice and vote at the meeting.

 

Our shareholders are subject to advance notice requirements for shareholder proposals and director nominations

 

The Second Amended By-Laws provide that stockholders seeking to nominate candidates for election as directors or to bring business before an annual meeting of stockholders must provide timely notice of their proposal in writing to the corporate secretary. To be timely, a stockholder's notice will have to be received at the Company’s principal executive offices not less than 60 days nor more than 90 days prior to the anniversary date of the immediately preceding annual meeting of shareholders; provided, however, that in the event that the annual meeting is called for a date that is not within 30 days before or after such anniversary date, notice by the stockholder must be received not later than the close of business on the tenth day following the day on which such notice of the date of the annual meeting was mailed or public disclosure of the date of the annual meeting was made, whichever occurs first, in order for such notice by a stockholder to be timely. The Second Amended By-Laws also specify requirements as to the form and content of a shareholder's notice. These advance notice requirements, particularly the 60 to 90 day requirement, may impede shareholders' ability to bring matters before an annual meeting of stockholders or make nominations for directors at an annual meeting of shareholders.

 

Certain super majority provisions in our organizational documents may discourage,delay or prevent changes to such documents.

 

The Second Amended Articles provides that a two-thirds vote is required to amend or repeal certain provisions of the Second Amended Articles and Second Amended By-Laws, including those provisions relating to: the number and election of directors; filling of board vacancies; resignations and removals of directors; director liability and indemnification of directors; the power of shareholders to call special meetings; advance notice of director nominations and stockholders proposals; and amendments to the Second Amended Articles and Second Amended By-Laws. These supermajority provisions may discourage, delay or prevent changes to the Second Amended Articles or Second Amended By-Laws.

 

ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

 

None.

 

ITEM 2. PROPERTIES

 

We do not own any real property. We lease office space at 477 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10022. Our interests in our drybulk vessels are our only material properties. See “Item 1. Business—Our Fleet.”

 

ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

 

We commenced the Prepackaged Case to implement our balance sheet restructuring on August 6th, 2014. Pursuant to the Bankruptcy Code, the filing of a bankruptcy petition automatically stayed certain actions against us, including actions to collect prepetition indebtedness or to exercise control over the property of our bankruptcy estate. The Plan provided for the treatment of allowed claims against our bankruptcy estate, including pre-petition liabilities. The treatment of such liabilities under the Plan resulted in a material adjustment to our financial statements and has been recorded in Reorganization items, net in our consolidated statements of operation. Information concerning the Prepackaged Case in Item 1, “Business” is incorporated herein by reference.

 

 From time to time, we are involved in various disputes and litigation matters that arise in the ordinary course of our business, principally personal injury and property casualty claims. Those claims, even if lacking merit, could result in the expenditure by us of significant financial and managerial resources.

 

ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE

 

Not applicable. 

 

 
48

 

 

PART II

 

ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT'S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

 

Common Stock 

 

The trading market for shares of our common stock is the Nasdaq Global Select Market, on which our shares are quoted under the symbol "EGLE." Upon the Effective Date, our original common stock was canceled, and our new common stock subsequently began trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the same symbol “EGLE.”  The following table summarizes the quarter high and low closing prices per share of our common stock as reported on the Nasdaq Global Select Market since October 15, 2014.

 

For the period:

 

High

   

Low

 
                 

October 16, 2014 to December 31, 2014

  $ 16.44     $ 13.34  

 

Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

 

On October 15, 2014, the reorganized Company caused to be distributed (i) to the holders of the Prepetition Credit Facility Claims, approximately 37,312,500 shares of New Eagle Common Stock, representing approximately 99.5% of the total shares of New Eagle Common Stock issued and outstanding on the Effective Date (subject to dilution by the New Eagle Equity Warrants, and the shares and stock options issued under the Management Incentive Program), and (ii) to the holders of old Equity Interests of the Company, approximately 187,500 shares representing approximately 0.50% of the total shares of New Eagle Common Stock issued and outstanding on the Effective Date (subject to dilution by the New Eagle Equity Warrants, and the shares and stock options issued under the Management Incentive Program).

 

Also on October 15, 2014, the reorganized Company issued 3,040,540 New Eagle Equity Warrants, each of which is initially exercisable for one share of New Eagle Common Stock, and which in the aggregate are initially exercisable for 3,040,540 shares of New Eagle Common Stock (subject to dilution by the Management Incentive Program), to the holders of the old Equity Interests of the Company.

  

Equity Compensation Plan

 

Management Incentive Program

On the Effective Date, in accordance with the Plan, the Company adopted the post-emergence Management Incentive Program, which provides for the distribution of New Eagle MIP Primary Equity in the form of shares of New Eagle Common Stock, and New Eagle MIP Options, to the participating senior management and other employees of the reorganized Company. The New Eagle MIP Primary Equity is subject to vesting, but the holder thereof is entitled to receive all dividends paid with respect to such shares as if such New Eagle MIP Primary Equity had vested on the grant date (subject to forfeiture by the holder in the event that such grant is terminated prior to vesting unless the administrator of the Management Incentive Program determines otherwise). The New Eagle MIP Options will contain adjustment provisions to reflect any transaction involving shares of New Eagle Common Stock, including as a result of any dividend, recapitalization, or stock split, so as to prevent any diminution or enlargement of the holder’s rights under the award.

 

  

Payment of Dividends to Stockholders 

 

We have not declared or paid any dividends since the fourth quarter of 2008 and currently do not plan to resume the payment of dividends. In the future, the declaration and payment of dividends, if any, will always be subject to the discretion of the board of directors, restrictions contained in the credit facility and the requirements of Marshall Islands law. The timing and amount of any dividends declared will depend on, among other things, our earnings, financial condition and cash requirements and availability, the ability to obtain debt and equity financing on acceptable terms as contemplated by the Company's growth strategy, the terms of its outstanding indebtedness and the ability of the Company's subsidiaries to distribute funds to it. (See Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements and Management's Discussion and Analysis of financial condition and results of operations). 

 

 
49

 

 

ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

 

The following table sets forth selected financial data for period from October 16 to December 31, 2014 (Successor), for period January 1 to October 15, 2014 (Predecessor) and for each of the four years ended December 31, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 (Predecessor). Certain information in the table has been derived from the Company's audited financial statements and notes thereto for period from October 16 to December 31, 2014 (Successor), for period January 1 to October 15, 2014 (Predecessor) and for the years ended December 31, 2013 and 2012 and as of December 31, 2014 and 2013 included herein and for the years ended December 31, 2011 and 2010 and as of December 31, 2012, 2011 and 2010 not appearing in this Form 10-K. The data for period from October 16 to December 31, 2014 (Successor), for period January 1 to October 15, 2014 (Predecessor) and for the years ended December 31, 2013 and 2012 and as of December 31, 2014 and 2013 should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements, related notes and other financial information included herein. The period from October 16 to December 31, 2014 (Successor) and the period from January 1 to October 15, 2014 (Predecessor) are distinct reporting periods as a result of our emergence from bankruptcy on October 15, 2014 as reported in our consolidated financial statements. In accordance with standard shipping industry practice, we did not obtain from the sellers historical operating data for the vessels that we acquired, as that data was not material to our decision to purchase the vessels. Accordingly, we have not included any historical financial data relating to the results of operations of our vessels from the period before our acquisition of them. Please see "Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Lack of Historical Operating Data for Vessels Before their Acquisition."

 

(Dollar amounts in thousands except Per Share amounts and Fleet Data)

 

   

Successor

   

Predecessor

 

 

Income Statement Data (b)

 

Period from October 16 to December 31, 2014

   

Period from January 1 to October 15, 2014

   

2013

   

2012

   

2011

   

2010

 
                                                 

Revenues, net of commissions

  $ 31,090     $ 123,150     $ 202,440     $ 190,811     $ 313,432     $ 265,036  

Voyage expenses

    6,262       14,704       26,423       26,111       44,346       3,727  

Vessel expenses

    18,579       76,394       84,425       90,552       85,050       72,984  

Charter hire expenses

    1,043       188       -       1,713       41,216       9,983  
Depreciation and Amortization     8,782       61,239       76,947       77,588       73,084       62,945  

General and Administrative Expenses

  $ 4,685       13,964       16,026       32,065       37,559       40,029  

Loss (gain) on Sale of Vessel

    -       -       -       -       509       (291 )

Gain on time charter agreement termination

    -       -       (32,526 )     -       -       -  

Total Operating Expenses

    39,351       166,489       171,296       228,030       281,764       189,377  
                                                 

Interest Expense, Net

    2,359       60,737       82,832       66,611       46,640       48,516  

Interest Income

    (2 )     (8 )     -       -       -       -  

Other expenses (income)

    884       -       18,832       (1,028 )     (152 )     298  

Reorganization Expense

    46       427,735       -       -       -       -  

Net loss

  $ (11,549 )   $ (531,803 )   $ (70,521 )   $ (102,801 )   $ (14,820 )   $ 26,845  
                                                 

Share and Per Share Data

                                               

Basic Income (loss) per share

  $ (0.31 )   $ (29.78 )   $ (4.15 )   $ (6.30 )   $ (0.95 )   $ 1.73  

Diluted Income (loss) per share

  $ (0.31 )   $ (29.78 )   $ (4.15 )   $ (6.30 )   $ (0.95 )   $ 1.72  

Weighted Average Shares Outstanding – Diluted

    37,505       17,857       16,984       16,328       15,655       15,604  

Cash Dividends Declared per share

    -       -       -       -       -       -  
                                                 

Consolidated Cash Flow Data

                                               

Net cash (used in)/from operating activities

  $ (279 )   $ (19,465 )   $ (354 )   $ 4,778     $ 58,296     $ 94,340  

Net cash (used in)/from investing activities

    4,206       (491 )     2,317       294       (157,786 )     (280,996 )

Net cash (used in)/from financing activities

    -       (36,322 )     (400 )     (12,028 )     (4,556 )     244,433  

 

 
50

 

 

 

 

   

Successor

   

Predecessor

 

Consolidated Balance Sheet Data

 

December 31, 2014

   

December 31, 2013

   

December 31, 2012

   

December 31, 2011

   

December 31, 2010

 

Current Assets

  $ 76,591     $ 61,931     $ 43,799     $ 55,891     $ 150,733  

Total Assets

    913,877       1,723,414       1,789,144       1,867,257       1,896,573  

Total Liabilities

    249,786       1,192,219       1,194,950       1,193,081       1,227,486  

Short-term Debt

    15,625       1,174,044       -       -       -  

Long-term Debt

    204,107       -       1,144,866       1,097,385       1,151,354  

Stockholders' Equity

    664,091       531,195       594,195       674,176       669,087  
                                         

Other Data

                                       

Capital Expenditures:

                                       

Vessels

  $ 486     $ 92     $ 58     $ 179,106     $ 301,796  

Payments for Drydockings

  $ 5,764     $ 3,638     $ 1,094     $ 2,809     $ 2,828  

Ratio of Total Debt to Total Capitalization (a)

    24.9 %     68.8 %     65.0 %     63.6 %     63.2 %
                                         

Fleet Data

                                       

Number of Vessels in operating fleet

    45       45       45       45       38  

Average Age of Fleet (in dwt weighted years)

    8       7       6       5       5  

Fleet Ownership Days

    16,425       16,425       16,470       15,290       12,958  

Charter-in under operating lease Days

    91       -       90       2,421       476  

Fleet Available Days

    16,325       16,305       16,512       17,619       13,323  

Fleet Operating Days

    15,988       16,180       16,389       17,514       13,274  

Fleet Utilization Days

    97.9 %     99.2 %     99.3 %     99.4 %     99.6 %

 

 

(a) Ratio of Total Debt to Total Capitalization was calculated as debt divided by capitalization (debt plus stockholders' equity).
   

(b)

The consolidated and other financial data for the year ended December 31, 2014 presented the results of operation for the period from October 16 to December 31, 2014 (Successor) and the period from January 1 to October 15, 2014 (Predecessor). The period from October 16 to December 31, 2014 (Successor) and the period from January 1 to October 15, 2014 (Predecessor) are distinct reporting periods as a result of our emergence from bankruptcy on October 15, 2014 as reported in our consolidated financial statements. As result of the bankruptcy our capital structure and share and per share amounts are not comparable between the Successor and Predecessor.  

 

ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATION

 

The following is a discussion of the Company's financial condition and results of operation for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012. This section should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report and the notes to those financial statements.

 

This discussion contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, and are intended to be covered by the safe harbor provided for under these sections.  These statements may include words such as “believe,” “estimate,” “project,” “intend,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” and similar expressions in connection with any discussion of the timing or nature of future operating or financial performance or other events. Forward- looking statements reflect management's current expectations and observations with respect to future events and financial performance. Where we express an expectation or belief as to future events or results, such expectation or belief is expressed in good faith and believed to have a reasonable basis.  However, our forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties, and other factors, which could cause actual results to differ materially from future results expressed, projected, or implied by those forward-looking statements. The principal factors that affect our financial position, results of operations and cash flows include, charter market rates, which have declined significantly from historic highs, periods of charter hire, vessel operating expenses and voyage costs, which are incurred primarily in U.S. dollars, depreciation expenses, which are a function of the cost of our vessels, significant vessel improvement costs and our vessels' estimated useful lives, and financing costs related to our indebtedness. Our actual results may differ materially from those anticipated in these forward- looking statements as a result of certain factors which could include the following: (i) changes in demand in the dry bulk market, including, without limitation, changes in production of, or demand for, commodities and bulk cargoes, generally or in particular regions; (ii) greater than anticipated levels of dry bulk vessel new building orders or lower than anticipated rates of dry bulk vessel scrapping; (iii) changes in rules and regulations applicable to the dry bulk industry, including, without limitation, legislation adopted by international bodies or organizations such as the International Maritime Organization and the European Union or by individual countries; (iv) actions taken by regulatory authorities; (v) changes in trading patterns significantly impacting overall dry bulk tonnage requirements; (vi) changes in the typical seasonal variations in dry bulk charter rates; (vii) changes in the cost of other modes of bulk commodity transportation; (viii) changes in general domestic and international political conditions; (ix) changes in the condition of the Company's vessels or applicable maintenance or regulatory standards (which may affect, among other things, our anticipated drydocking costs); (x) the outcome of our discussions with the agent of our credit facility regarding the calculation of collateral covenants, (xi) the outcome of legal proceeding in which we are involved; and (xii) and other factors listed from time to time in our filings with the SEC. This discussion also includes statistical data regarding world dry bulk fleet and orderbook and fleet age. We generated some of this data internally, and some were obtained from independent industry publications and reports that we believe to be reliable sources. We have not independently verified this data nor sought the consent of any organizations to refer to their reports in this quarterly report. We disclaim any intent or obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required under applicable securities laws.

 

 
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Overview

 

We are Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc., a Marshall Islands corporation headquartered in New York City. We own one of the largest fleets of Supramax dry bulk vessels in the world. Supramax dry bulk are Handymax vessels ranging in size from 50,000 to 60,000 dwt. We transport a broad range of major and minor bulk cargoes, including iron ore, coal, grain, cement and fertilizer, along worldwide shipping routes. As of December 31, 2014, we owned and operated a modern fleet of 45 Handymax segment dry bulk vessels, 43 of which are of the Supramax class. We also charter-in a 37,000 dwt newbuilding Japanese vessel that was delivered in October 2014 for seven years with an option for additional one year.

 

We are focused on maintaining a high quality fleet that is concentrated primarily in one vessel type – Handymax dry bulk carriers and its sub-category of Supramax vessels. These vessels have the cargo loading and unloading flexibility of on-board cranes while offering cargo carrying capacities approaching that of Panamax dry bulk vessels, which range in size from 60,000 to 100,000 dwt and rely on port facilities to load and offload their cargoes. We believe that the cargo handling flexibility and cargo carrying capacity of the Supramax class vessels make them attractive to cargo interests and vessel charterers. The 45 vessels in our operating fleet, with an aggregate carrying capacity of 2,451,259 deadweight tons, have an average age of 7.6 years compared to an average age for the world Handymax dry bulk fleet of approximately 8.9 years.

 

 

On August 6, 2014, the Company entered into a Restructuring Support Agreement with the Consenting Lenders constituting the “Majority Lenders” under its Credit Agreement, which contemplated a plan of reorganization through a balance sheet restructuring of the Company’s obligations upon the terms specified therein. On the same day, the Company filed a voluntary Prepackaged Case under the “Bankruptcy Code”. The Prepackaged Case was filed only in respect of the parent company, Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc., but not any of its subsidiaries. Through the Prepackaged Case, the Company sought to implement a balance sheet restructuring pursuant to the terms of its Plan filed with the Court.

 

On September 22, 2014, the Court entered (the “Confirmation Order”) confirming the Plan. On the Effective Date, the Company completed its balance sheet restructuring and emerged from Chapter 11 through a series of transactions contemplated by the Plan, and the Plan became effective pursuant to its terms.

 

Key components of the Plan included:

 

Entry into a new senior secured credit facility (the “Exit Financing Facility”) as of October 9, 2014, in the amount of $275 million (inclusive of a $50 million revolving credit facility).

 

 

The cancellation of all outstanding equity interests in the Company as of the Effective Date, with the current holders of such equity interests (other than the Consenting Lenders on account of certain warrants held by them or shares of common stock received upon conversion of such warrants ) receiving (i) shares of New Eagle Common Stock equal to 0.5% of the total number of shares of New Eagle Common Stock issued and outstanding on the Effective Date (subject to dilution by the New Eagle Equity Warrants and the Management Incentive Program), and (ii) an aggregate of 3,040,540 New Eagle Equity Warrants. Each New Eagle Equity Warrant will have a 7-year term (commencing on the Effective Date) and will be exercisable for one share of New Eagle Common Stock (subject to adjustment as set forth in the New Eagle Equity Warrant Agreement and dilution by the Management Incentive Program).

 

The extinguishment of all loans and other obligations under the Credit Agreement as of the Effective Date, with the current holders thereof receiving (i) shares of New Eagle Common Stock equal to 99.5% of the total number of shares of New Eagle Common Stock issued and outstanding on the Effective Date, subject to dilution by the New Eagle Equity Warrants and the Management Incentive Program, and (ii) a cash distribution as contemplated by the Plan . On the Effective Date, the Credit Agreement was terminated, and the liens and mortgages thereunder were released.

 

All claims of unsecured creditors of Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. were unaffected and will be paid in full in the ordinary course.

 

The establishment of a Management Incentive Program that provides senior management and certain other employees of the reorganized Company with 2% of the New Eagle Common Stock (on a fully diluted basis) on the Effective Date, and two tiers of options to acquire 5.5% of the New Eagle Common Stock (on a fully diluted basis) with different strike prices based on the equity value for the reorganized Company and a premium to the equity value, each of the foregoing to vest generally over a four year schedule through 25% annual installments commencing on the first anniversary of the Effective Date. The Management Incentive Program also provides for the reservation of certain additional shares for future issuance thereunder, as further described in the Plan.

 

 
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The Plan also provided for certain releases of various parties by certain holders of claims against and equity interests in the Company

 

Exit Financing Facility

 

On October 9, 2014, Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc., as borrower, and certain of its subsidiaries, as guarantors, entered into the Exit Financing Facility with the Exit Lenders. The Exit Financing Facility is in the amount of $275 million, including a $50 million undrawn revolving credit facility, and matures on October 15, 2019. Amounts drawn under the Exit Financing Facility bear interest at a rate of LIBOR plus the Margin. The revolving credit facility is subject to an annual commitment fee of 40% of the margin. 

 

Registration Rights Agreement

 

On the Effective Date, and in accordance with the Plan, the Company entered into the Registration Rights Agreement with certain parties that received shares of New Eagle Common Stock under the Plan. The Registration Rights Agreement provided such parties with demand and piggyback registration rights.

 

New Eagle Equity Warrant Agreement

 

On the Effective Date, and in accordance with the Plan, the New Eagle Equity Warrants were issued pursuant to the terms of the New Eagle Equity Warrant Agreement. Each New Eagle Equity Warrant has a 7-year term (commencing on the Effective Date) and are exercisable for one share of New Eagle Common Stock (subject to adjustment as set forth in the New Eagle Equity Warrant Agreement and dilution by the Management Incentive Program). The New Eagle Equity Warrants are exercisable at an exercise price of $27.82 per share (subject to adjustment as set forth in the New Eagle Equity Warrant Agreement). The New Eagle Equity Warrant Agreement contains customary anti-dilution adjustments in the event of any stock split, reverse stock split, stock dividend, reclassification, dividend or other distributions (including, but not limited to, cash dividends), or business combination transaction.  

 

Our financial performance is based on the following key elements of our business strategy:

 

 

(1)

concentration in one vessel category: Supramax class of Handymax dry bulk vessels, which we believe offer size, operational and geographical advantages over other classes of dry bulk vessels, such as Panamax and Capesize vessels,

     

  

(2)

Our strategy is to balance our revenues between mid-term time charters, short-term time charters, voyage charters and pool arrangements to maximize our financial performance throughout shipping cycles. The Company has been executing its commercial strategy by trading in the spot market through spot market-related time charters on voyages, short time charters, index charters, and pool charters. We have entered into either time charter, or voyage charter employment, or pool contracts for all the vessels in our operating fleet. The vessels that are on charters whose revenues are linked to the Baltic Supramax index generally have durations of one-year or less. These index-linked charters, voyage charters and pool contracts provide us with revenue upside as the market improves. We regularly monitor the dry bulk shipping market and based on market conditions we may consider taking advantage of long-term charter rates when appropriate, and

 

  

(3)

maintain high quality vessels and improve standards of operation through improved environmental procedures, crew training and maintenance and repair procedures,

  

The following are other significant events that occurred during 2014: 

On March 19, 2014, the Company received waivers for the violation of the maximum leverage ratio covenant under its Credit Agreement (As defined in note 8 to the Consolidated Financial Statements, below) as of December 31, 2013 and the expected violation of the maximum leverage ratio and minimum interest coverage ratio covenants at March 31, 2014 (as amended, the “Waivers”). The Waivers were extended through August 5, 2014, subject to certain conditions and the satisfaction of certain milestones. 

 

 
53

 

 

The following are other significant events that occurred during 2013:

 

 

In January 2013, a comprehensive termination agreement between the Company and KLC became effective and in March, 2013, the Korean court approved an amendment to the KLC termination agreement after receiving a favorable vote from the concerned parties.   

     

  

During the year we transferred all the vessels managed by Anglo Eastern International Ltd to in-house technical management.

 

The following are significant events that occurred during 2012:

 

 

In June 2012, we entered into a Fourth Amended and Restated Credit Agreement; and

 

 

In May 2012, we completed a one-for-four reverse stock split of our issued and outstanding common stock.

 

We have employed all of our vessels on time and voyage charters. The following table represents certain information about our revenue earning charters on our operating fleet as of December 31, 2014:

 

 

Vessel

Year

Built

 

Dwt

 

Charter Expiration (1)

Daily

Charter Hire Rate

 

 

 

 

 

Avocet

2010

53,462

Mar 2015

Pool(4)

 

 

 

 

 

Bittern 

2009

57,809

Drydock

 -

 

 

 

 

 

Canary

2009

57,809

Mar 2015

Pool(4)

 

 

 

 

 

Cardinal

2004

55,362

Feb 2015

$9,750

 

 

 

 

 

Condor

2001

50,296

Jan 2015

$9,500(2)

 

 

 

 

 

Crane 

2010

57,809

 Mar 2015

Pool(4)

 

 

 

 

 

Crested Eagle

2009

55,989

Jan 2015

$8,500

 

 

 

 

 

Crowned Eagle

2008

55,940

Feb 2015 to July 2015

Index(3)

 

 

 

 

 

Egret Bulker

2010

57,809

Mar 2015

Pool(4)

 

 

 

 

 

Falcon

2001

50,296

Jan 2014

$9,400(2)

 

 

 

 

 

Gannet Bulker

2010

57,809

Jan 2015

$5,800(2)

 

 

 

 

 

Golden Eagle

2010

55,989

Jan 2015

$12,800(2)

 

 

 

 

 

Goldeneye

2002

52,421

Apr 2015 

 $10,150(2)

 

 

 

 

 

Grebe Bulker

2010

57,809

Mar 2015

Pool(4)

 

 
54

 

  

Harrier

2001

50,296

Mar 2015

$8,000(2)

 

 

 

 

 

Hawk I

2001

50,296

Feb 2015

Index(3)

 

 

 

 

 

Ibis Bulker

2010

57,775

Mar 2015

Pool(4)

 

 

 

 

 

Imperial Eagle

2010

55,989

Jan 2014

$8,250

 

 

 

 

 

Jaeger

2004

52,248

Drydock

-

 

 

 

 

 

Jay

2010

57,802

Feb 2014 – May 2015

$10,600

 

 

 

 

 

Kestrel I

2004

50,326

Feb 2015

$11,250(2)

 

 

 

 

 

Kingfisher 

2010

57,776

Mar 2015

Pool(4)

 

 

 

 

 

Kite

1997

47,195

Jan 2015

$7,100

 

 

 

 

 

Kittiwake

2002

53,146

Jan 2015

$11,000

 

 

 

 

 

Martin

2010

57,809

Mar 2015

Pool(4)

 

 

 

 

 

Merlin

2001

50,296

Jan 2015

$10,000(2)

 

 

 

 

 

Nighthawk

2012

57,809

Mar 2015

Pool(4)

 

 

 

 

 

Oriole

2012

57,809

Feb 2015

$5,000(2)

 

 

 

 

 

Osprey I

2002

50,206

Feb 2015

$12,100(2)

         

Owl

2012

57,809

Jan 2015

Voyage

         

Peregrine

2001

50,913

Feb 2015

Voyage(2)

 

 

 

 

 

Petrel Bulker

2012

57,809

Jan 2015

$5,900(2)

 

 

 

 

 

Puffin Bulker

2012

57,809

Jan 2015

$7,850(2)

 

 

 

 

 

Redwing

2007

53,411

Jan 2015

$9,500(2)

 

 

 

 

 

Roadrunner Bulker

2012

57,809

Jan 2015

$7,750(2)

 

 
55

 

  

Sandpiper Bulker

2012

57,809

Jan 2015

Voyage

 

 

 

 

 

Shrike

2003

53,343

Mar 2015

Pool(4)

 

 

 

 

 

Skua

2003

53,350

Jan 2015

$8,000(2)

 

 

 

 

 

Sparrow

2000

48,225

Jan 2015

$11,000(2)

 

 

 

 

 

Stellar Eagle

2009

55,989

Apr 2015 – Jul 2015

$7,030

 

 

 

 

 

Tern

2003

50,200

Jan 2015

Voyage(2)

 

 

 

 

 

Thrasher 

2010

53,360

Apr 2015

Index(3)

 

 

 

 

 

Thrush

2012

53,297

Mar 2015

Pool(4)

 

 

 

 

 

Woodstar 

2008

53,390

Jan 2015 - Feb 2015

Index(3)

         

Wren

2008

53,349

Mar 2015

Pool(4)


 

 

(1)

The date range provided represents the earliest and latest date on which the charterer may redeliver the vessel to the Company upon the termination of the charter. The time charter hire rates presented are gross daily charter rates before brokerage commissions, ranging from 1.25% to 5.00%, to third party ship brokers.

  

(2)

Upon conclusion of the previous charter the vessel will commence a short term charter for up to six months.

  

(3)

Index, an average of the trailing Baltic Supramax Index.

   

  

(4)

The vessels are operating in a Dry Bulk Pool for a period between 10 to 14 months.

 

 

Market Overview

 

The international shipping industry is highly competitive and fragmented with many market participants. As of January 31, 2015, there are approximately 10,373 dry bulk carriers (over 10,000 dwt) totaling 761.3 million dwt.  The world dry bulk fleet remains very fragmented with no single owner accounting for more than 3% in any particular sub-sector.  We compete with other (primarily private) owners of dry bulk vessels in the Handysize, Handymax, and Panamax asset classes.

 

Competition in drybulk trade is intense. Demand is a function of world economic conditions and the consequent requirement for commodities, production and consumption patterns, as well as events which interrupt production, trade routes, and consumption. We compete for charters on the basis of price, vessel location, size, age, and condition, as well as on our reputation as an owner and operator. Customers, or charterers, tend to prefer modern vessels (over older ships) due to their greater operational reliability, lower fuel consumption, and improved built-designs complying with more recent regulation standards.  Consequently, owners of large modern fleets tend to have a competitive advantage over owners operating older ships.

  

Our strategy is to concentrate in one vessel category within the dry bulk segment- the Handymax sector. Handymax dry bulk vessels range in size from 35,000 to 60,000 dwt. Within the Handymax sector, the industry has migrated to a larger size vessel class called the Supramax which ranges in size from 50,000 to 60,000 dwt. These vessels have the cargo loading and unloading flexibility offered by its on-board cranes while its cargo carrying capacity approaches that of Panamax class vessels, which ranges in size between 60,000 and 100,000 dwt and requires onshore facilities to load and offload their cargoes. We believe that the cargo handling flexibility and cargo carrying capacity of the Supramax class vessels make them attractive to potential charterers.  Forty-three of the 45 vessels in our operating fleet as of December 31, 2014 are classified as Supramax vessels.

 

The supply of dry bulk vessels depends primarily on the level of the orderbook, the fleet age profile, and the operating efficiency of the existing fleet.  As of January 2015, 7% of the world Handymax fleet was 20 years or older.  The 45 Handymax vessels in our operating fleet have an average age of approximately 7.6 years as of December 31, 2014, compared to an average age for the world Handymax dry bulk fleet of approximately 8.0 years. The Handymax newbuilding orderbook currently stands at 24% of the world Handymax fleet.

 

 
56

 

 

 

 

 

The Handymax Market

 

Drybulk faced a weak market in 2014 with rates decreasing across all asset classes.  The primary contributor to this weakness was a decrease in year-on-year demand growth from 6 to 4%.  Supply growth also decreased year-on-year, but it was not sufficient to make-up for the weakness in demand.  For the full year 2014, Supramaxes averaged $9,810/day, Panamaxes averaged $7,718/day, and Capesizes averaged $13,800/day.

  

 
57

 

 

Industry research indicates dry bulk vessel deliveries for 2015 and beyond will total 162.7 million DWT, which equates to approximately 21% of the on-the-water fleet.  Given the current state of the drybulk market though, a portion of these newbuilding orders may get postponed, cancelled, or converted into other types of vessels (i.e. tankers).  In the Capesize sector, over 350 vessels are currently on order which is equivalent to 22% of the existing fleet. The Panamax sector has about 17% of its existing fleet on order. And the Handymax sector has about 27% of its existing fleet on order with deliveries occurring between 2015 and 2017.  In total, there are 1,954 vessels on order within dry bulk.

 

Demand for dry bulk is expected to remain flat for 2015, equating to a growth rate of around 3%.  Firm demand projected for iron ore is offset by relative weakness for both coal and grains. Demand for minor bulks is projected to grow by 3%.

 

Lack of Historical Operating Data for Vessels Before their Acquisition

 

Consistent with shipping industry practice, other than inspection of the physical condition of the vessels and examinations of classification society records, there is no historical financial due diligence process when we acquire vessels. Accordingly, we do not obtain the historical operating data for the vessels from the sellers because that information is not material to our decision to make acquisitions, nor do we believe it would be helpful to potential investors in our common stock in assessing our business or profitability. Most vessels are sold under a standardized agreement, which, among other things, provides the buyer with the right to inspect the vessel and the vessel's classification society records. The standard agreement does not give the buyer the right to inspect, or receive copies of, the historical operating data of the vessel. Prior to the delivery of a purchased vessel, the seller typically removes from the vessel all records, including past financial records and accounts related to the vessel. In addition, the technical management agreement between the seller's technical manager and the seller is automatically terminated and the vessel's trading certificates are revoked by its flag state following a change in ownership.

  

Consistent with shipping industry practice, we treat the acquisition of a vessel (whether acquired with or without charter) as the acquisition of an asset rather than a business. Although vessels are generally acquired free of charter, we have acquired (and may in the future acquire) some vessels with time charters. Where a vessel has been under a voyage charter, the vessel is delivered to the buyer free of charter, and it is rare in the shipping industry for the last charterer of the vessel in the hands of the seller to continue as the first charterer of the vessel in the hands of the buyer. In most cases, when a vessel is under time charter and the buyer wishes to assume that charter, the vessel cannot be acquired without the charterer's consent and the buyer's entering into a separate direct agreement with the charterer to assume the charter. The purchase of a vessel itself does not transfer the charter, because it is a separate service agreement between the vessel owner and the charterer.

 

Critical Accounting Policies

 

The discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations is based upon our consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“U.S. GAAP” or “GAAP”). The preparation of those financial statements requires us to make estimates and judgments that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, revenues and expenses and related disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of our financial statements. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions and conditions.

 

Critical accounting policies are those that reflect significant judgments of uncertainties and potentially result in materially different results under different assumptions and conditions. We have described below what we believe are our most critical accounting policies, because they generally involve a comparatively higher degree of judgment in their application. For a description of all our accounting policies, see Note 2 to our consolidated financial statements included herein.

 

Revenue Recognition

 

Revenues are generated from time charters and voyage charters. Time charter revenues and are recognized on a straight-line basis over the term of the respective time charter agreements as service is provided. Voyage revenues for cargo transportation are recognized ratably over the estimated relative transit time of each voyage. Voyage revenue is deemed to commence upon the completion of discharge of the previous charterer’s cargo and is deemed to end upon the completion of discharge of the current cargo, provided an agreed non-cancelable charter between the Company and the charterer is in existence, the charter rate is fixed and determinable, and collectability is reasonably assured. Revenue under voyage charters will not be recognized until a charter has been agreed even if the vessel has discharged its previous cargo and is proceeding to an anticipated port of loading.

 

 Revenues generated from time charters linked to the Baltic Supramax index and/or revenues generated from profit sharing arrangements are recognized over the term of the respective time charter agreements as service is provided and the profit sharing is fixed and determinable.

 

 
58

 

 

For the Company’s vessels operating in the Commercial Pool, revenues and voyage expenses are pooled and allocated to each pool participant under a time charter agreement basis in accordance with an agreed-upon formula. The formula in the pool agreement for allocating gross shipping revenues net of voyage expenses is based on points allocated to participants’ vessels based on cargo carrying capacity and other technical characteristics, such as speed and fuel consumption. The selection of charterers, negotiation of rates and collection of related receivables and the payment of voyage expenses, which include the cost of bunkers and port expenses, are the responsibility of the pool. The operating costs including crews, maintenance and insurance are typically paid by the owner of the vessel. The pool may enter into contracts that earn either voyage charter revenue or time charter revenue. The Company recognizes revenue from this pool arrangement based on its portion of the net distributions reported by the pool, which represents the net voyage revenue of the pool after voyage expenses and pool manager fees. The pool follows the same revenue recognition principles, as applied by the Company, in determining shipping revenues and voyage expenses, including recognizing revenue only after a charter has been agreed to by both the pool and the customer, even if the vessel has discharged its cargo and is sailing to the anticipated load port on its next voyage.

 

Performance Claims

 

Revenue is based on contracted charterparties, including spot-market related time charters which rates fluctuate based on changes in the spot market.  However, there is always the possibility of dispute over terms and payment of hires and freights. In particular, disagreements may arise as to the responsibility of third party costs incurred by the customer and revenue due to us as a result. Additionally, there are certain performance parameters included in contracted charterparties which if not met, can result in customer claims. Accordingly, we periodically assess the recoverability of amounts outstanding and estimate a provision if there is a possibility of non-recoverability. At each balance sheet date, we