Friday, May 2, 2008

HI Superferry: More Interesting Research by Ian Lind

Ian Lind provides links below to documents between HSF and Argent Group. As I read those agreements and filings, I was amazed that HSF even entered into this agreement. The services from Argent seemed quite expensive ("$250 to $375 per man-hour for this project") yet quite frankly many assumptions and details of HSF's business plan seem questionable and not well thought out. There is also mention that Argent would, "participate in meetings with Federal, Military, and State of Hawaii agencies and personnel." The three documents between the two are clickable below from Ian:

From Ian Lind's blog on April 30th:

"Later I ran into an interesting federal lawsuit filed in San Francisco in December 2005 by Argent Group Ltd against Hawaii Superferry, Inc. Argent claimed it was owed $1.6 million under a contract to “coordinate overall financing for the Project, and to act as HSF’s exclusive debt advisor for the Project.”

According to a copy of the agreement and a subsequent amendment attached to the complaint, Argent Group had primary responsibility for “advising HSF on the terms of any construction financing…or obtaining a Title XI guarantee commitment from the U.S. Maritime Administration.”

Argent is described in Congressional testimony:

Argent is a boutique investment banking firm that specializes in structuring and arranging financing for projects involving large-ticket assets such as ships. Since its inception in 1982, Argent has arranged financing for projects costing in excess of $25 billion, more than half of which has been in connection with ship financing transactions.

Given that some of the key issues with the whole Superferry stem from that MarAd negotiation, it would appear that Argent could have been a key player that has been overlooked to date. The documents, which I’ve only started to review this morning, spell out the financing plan and other details.

In any case, I know there are others involved in the Superferry issue who may be able to spot any significant material in these documents.

Here are links to the Argent Group complaint filed in U.S. District Court, the Superferry’s answer and counterclaim, and Argent’s reply.

A settlement was apparently reached and the case dropped in January 2007."

Thanks Ian,
Aloha, Brad

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