Sunday, August 22, 2010

What are the Hawaii Superferries Worth?

There is a new KITV report on a MARAD official's statements yesterday in Honolulu on the expected auction of the two Hawaii Superferries here and here. In those reports the MARAD official is quoted as saying the lien that MARAD has on the vessels is a total of $150 million. The report further quotes,

"'I can tell you we already have a $150 million lien on both ships. So, you can of course, provide a cash bid higher than that amount and take ownership of both the Alakai and the Huakai,' said Matsuda. Matsuda was in Honolulu Friday for the groundbreaking ceremony for the renovation of the Pier 29 container yard at Honolulu Harbor. The project is funded with federal stimulus money. Matsuda said Maritime Administration wants the Superferry vessels for military and humanitarian projects."

Hold that thought.

You can look a number of places to try to find what the two Superferries actually cost to build including all the nice extras in the interiors and things added later like the Whale detection systems to the Alakai and the ramp, wastewater treatment, and desalination plants added to the Huakai. A simple place to look is Wikipedia which says each vessel's total costs were $88 million each, here and here. Of course that's just Wikipedia and the Huakai's costs were at least $5 million more than the Alakai. But a quick thumbnail estimate is that the combined cost for the two was at least $181 million new before depreciation. Hold that thought.

Now, it took a little bit of hunting but we went back and looked at some of the early Bankruptcy Court filings, and it looks like the outstanding senior lien that MARAD has on the two vessels is actually closer to $140 million, not $150 million. Additionally Guggenheim Corporate Funding, LLC has a lesser priority outstanding lien of about $48 million and Austal had an even lower priority lien of about $22 million. The State of Hawaii was junior to them. Austal wrote off their loan as a loss. Guggenheim's lien was "secured" in equity. It is understood that all equity holders would lose their money on this. So the key takeaway on the liens is that MARAD's is $140 million, not $150 million and that Guggenheim also has a lien and would be out $48 million. The total of those two adds up to $188 million, only slightly more than what the two vessels originally cost to build. Hold that thought.

Now, let's got back to that MARAD official's quote about $150 million. First of all, does MARAD determine and run the auction? NO, they do NOT. It is the Bankruptcy Court that does that. The MARAD official's comment, "So, you can of course, provide a cash bid higher than that amount ('$150 million') and take ownership of both the Alakai and the Huakai,' said Matsuda," is not something that MARAD will determine and is misleading. First of all, MARAD's outstanding lien is $140 million, and NOT $150 million and more importantly because these ships are possibly worth closer to $180 million than $150 million, but also because it is not for MARAD to say what exact dollar figure will be enough to take ownership of the two vessels, that's the purvue of the Bankruptcy Court.

So, what are these ships worth? Well, it's somewhere between $150 and $180. They have a tax depreciable life of at least 20 years, even though the Huakai is almost like brand new and should not be depreciated as much as the Alakai. The Alakai, if you will remember, had significant damage to the rudder, was run aground going into drydock, and fell off it's blocks in drydock. But, if they were both actually being used continuously over the past 2 to 3 years, then the total depreciation on $180 million would be about $4.5 million for the Huakai and about $13.5 million for the Alakai for a total of about $18 million off of $180 million equaling about $162 million, which is about what these two vessels are really worth, leaving $140 million for MARAD, not $150 million, and the other $22 million for Guggenheim, recovering almost half of their potential loss. Keep in mind, to build these brand new for commercial use would be at least $90 million each and also the builder Austal is being paid about $180 million to build just one of these very similar ships for the U.S. military as JHSV's.

Our conclusion is then that these two vessels together are worth no less than $160 million total. Their actual worth is probably a little more than that. We would expect Guggenheim to be a bidder on this in addition to MARAD. We believe MARAD will actually be satisfied to recover their $140 million, but we also believe MARAD when they say the, "Maritime Administration wants the Superferry vessels for military and humanitarian projects."

Now, let's see if somebody gets 'em for less than that?

By the way, Mufi, your cheap friends aren't in the running.


Doctor on a bike said...

My office looks right out on the Hawaii Superferries in Norfolk. They've been moved this morning and look to be ready to go somewhere.

Brad Parsons said...

Thanks Doc.

Brad Parsons said...

BTW, if you go to here:
Set it to "Satelite" and you can look down on the Alakai and Huakai and see they have been moved to a pier right next to the one they have been at.

Brad Parsons said...

BTW, I think Guggenheim should bid $145 million, probably get 'em, and then sell 'em in Europe for $160 million or more.