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Oceanografia Creditors Seize Ship Off Gulf of Mexico Coast

Oceanografia SA bondholders took control of a 180-meter construction ship off the Gulf coast, claiming it as collateral after the Mexican oil-services company missed payments.

Norsk Tillitsmann ASA, trustee for Oceanografia’s bonds, declared Oceanografia’s $160 million of notes due in 2018 in default and appointed a receiver for the unit that owns the ship, named OSA Goliath, according to a letter on the trustee’s website. Norsk Tillitsmann also appointed a new board for the unit, which has terminated Oceanografia’s charter of the ship.

Oceanografia, based in Ciudad del Carmen, was seized by the Mexican government on Feb. 28 after Citigroup Inc. said it took a $360 million loss on loans to the company against receivables that didn’t exist. Fitch Ratings said in a statement yesterday that it doesn’t expect Citigroup’s Mexico unit, Banamex, to recover any of the money. Mexican authorities have said they’re conducting a criminal investigation.

Jorge Betancourt, Oceanografia’s head of investor relations, referred questions regarding the Goliath to Mexico’s Asset Transfer and Administration Service, known in Spanish by its acronym SAE. Marcia Fuentes, an official with the agency, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment. Norsk Tillitsmann, based in Oslo, didn’t respond to telephone and e-mailed requests seeking comment.

The 2018 securities, sold in October, were secured by the Goliath, an offshore construction vessel built in Indonesia in 2009 with a value of about $245 million, based on estimates from Kennedy Marr Ltd. and Offshore Shipbrokers Ltd. provided in the bonds’ offering memorandum.

300 People

The ship has accommodations for about 300 people and a main crane that can lift about 1,600 tons, according to the document. The company’s biggest customer was Mexico’s state oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, known as Pemex.

Oceanografia failed to pay Singapore-based unit OSA Goliath Pte. Ltd. to charter the vessel, which provided grounds for default under the terms of the bonds, according to the trustee. Charter fees were used to pay interest on the bonds.

The creditors are now seeking to sell the vessel and recoup $215 million of principal and accrued interest, according to the trustee. The 12 percent bonds climbed 3.5 cents today to 90 cents on the dollar, according to pricing from Pareto Securities.

The ship is currently located about 33 kilometers off Mexico’s Gulf coast, according to Bloomberg ship tracking data.

Falsified Invoices

Oceanografia’s $335 million of 11.25 percent securities due 2015, secured by seven aging vessels including a pair of almost 30-year-old tug boats, slipped 0.7 cents to 15.7 cents on the dollar.

Citigroup Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat wrote in an employee memo last week that invoices from Oceanografia may have been falsified to show that Pemex had approved them. Banamex recorded the losses and reported the alleged fraud after consulting with Pemex.

Mexican authorities had already banned the company on Feb. 11 from bidding on government contracts for 21 months because it violated agreements with Pemex.

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