July 2, 2012 / 4:16 AM / 5 years ago

Japan's Sanko Steamship files for bankruptcy

TOKYO (Reuters) - One of Japan's oldest shipping firms, Sanko Steamship, said it had filed for bankruptcy on Monday, holding an estimated $2 billion in debt amid a severe downturn in the dry bulk, tanker and container markets.

Sanko said it gave up the out-of-court settlement process it had pursued since March, and chose to seek protection from its creditors.

That was because it found itself in a severe cash flow problem as multiple ship owners retaliated to the rescheduling of charter fee payments by seizing Sanko-owned ships among others, the company said in a statement.

The Tokyo-based firm said its current top management would serve as the administrator for the bankruptcy.

Credit researcher Tokyo Shoko Research has said Sanko, which has restructured once before after filing for bankruptcy protection in 1985, had total debts of 155.8 billion yen ($1.95 billion).

($1 = 79.7900 Japanese yen)

Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori in Tokyo; editing by Miral Fahmy

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