Update: ING Sells its OW Bunker Debt, Could Prompt Physical Supplier Claims Surge

Tuesday November 17, 2015
  • Update 1: Edited to reflect ING has declined to comment on the matter

ING Bank NV (ING) has sold its $700 million in OW Bunker debt, sources understood to be familiar with the matter have told Ship & Bunker.

The debt stems from a $700 million revolving credit facility OW Bunker signed with an ING-led 13-bank syndicate in January 2014, ten months before the bunker player filed for bankruptcy.

Specific details of the sale, which was to an as yet unnamed buyer, are currently unknown, but the deal is said to have been concluded at a significant discount.

ING declined to comment on the matter when contacted by Ship & Bunker, with a spokesperson adding that it was standard policy to never comment on its client relationships.

The timing of the news comes at an interesting point in the OW Bunker story, as ING has recently been ramping up its claims against shipowners and operators, and follows three out of three rulings in a UK test case on the matter going in favour of OW Bunker trustees and ING - effectively paving the way for a potential flood of claims against bunker buyers with outstanding debt.

With the UK court having ruled that the OW Bunker debt is effectively a contractual one, the buyers are still open to claims for the same bunkers from the physical supplier, leading to the so called "double payment" scenario.

While it is understood that ING is likely to remain as the named creditor in the ongoing legal action, the mystery buyer will take on the claims against the owners and operators who have outstanding bunker bills from around the time of OW Bunker's collapse.

The latest developments are, according to one source who spoke to Ship & Bunker on the condition of anonymity, unlikely to be good news for any owners or operators who are in a potential double-payment situation.

"Whoever it was that bought up ING's debt is going to be well aware of where the Res Cogitans test case is at and will feel there is value in the debt they've bought, and be ready to collect on it," they said.

"And given that so far a lot of [bunker] suppliers seem to have been waiting to see how this double payment situation plays out, I think what this will do is prompt them to start taking action to claim on those bunkers, because things are tough out there and some of these guys might not have the funds to pay once, let alone twice."

Last week Ship & Bunker reported that a shipping company represented by Ocean 7 Projects was likely to be facing bankruptcy as a result of having to pay its OW Bunker bill twice.