Indonesian shipper Berlian files for creditor protection in the US

March 27 Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:30am EDT

March 27 (Reuters) - Indonesia-based oil and gas shipping company, PT Berlian Laju Tanker, filed for Chapter 15 creditor protection in a U.S. bankruptcy court on Tuesday, days after it reached a deal with creditors to restructure its $1.9 billion debt.

Under U.S. bankruptcy laws, Chapter 15 grants a foreign company protection from creditors looking to seize its assets in the country. The company's vessels are mortgaged to a consortium of banks as security under a $685 million loan agreement.

The group, once the world's third-largest chemical shipping company, secured support for its restructuring plan early this month, averting what could have been one of Indonesia's biggest bankruptcies in years.

Berlian Laju, which translates into English as Fast Diamond, defaulted on several debt instruments last year after being squeezed between weak freight rates and higher fuel costs in a shipping market struggling through a global downturn.

General Maritime, which ships crude oil and refined petroleum products, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last November as did Overseas Shipholding Group Inc .

The case is In re: PT Berlian Laju Tanker TBK, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No:13-10901.