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Marine Log

January 3, 2008

Chouest seen as potential buyer for Savannah yard

The property and assets of Savannah's Global Ship Systems, which occupied the former Intermarine USA shipyard on the Savannah River, were sold at auction Wednesday for $17.95 million in front of the Chatham County Courthouse.

Global Ship Systems had been operating the yard for around three years with some apparent success as a mega yacht refit specilaist that also undertook some U.S. Coast Guard repairs. This summer, though, the yard got into financial difficulties that led to foreclosure by the yard's principal lender, which bought the property at the auction through an affiliate. Both are affliates of Fortress Investments.

You can read the details in a Savannah Morning News story here.

One of the most interesting items in the Savannah Morning News report is that documents filed late last month in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Georgia in Savannah indicate Global had a $17.5 million offer from Edison Chouest, in July.

The Chouest offer came just weeks after Global, which had fallen behind in payments to vendors and other creditors, laid off some 130 workers and shut its doors, says the newspaper.

"The Chouest offer fell apart, however, when [Global Marine CEO Rob] Creech countered with a request for $18.5 million together with what he described as a 'golden handcuffs' contract for himself for five years at $215,000 per year, plus bonuses," reports the Savannah Morning News.

Now, says the paper, Fortress Credit Corp. and Drawbridge, both affiliates of global alternative asset manager Fortress Investment Group, plan to sell the property on the open market and Chouest reportedly remains interested in acquiring the facility.

If Chouest does gain control it will find itself the owner of a yard with a long but convoluted history.

According to coltoncompany.com, Global bought it in 2004 from Palmer Johnson, who had bought it from WorldCom in 2002.

From 1999 to 2002, it was owned by Bernie Ebbers, the Chairman of WorldCom, who forfeited it before he went to jail. Ebbers had bought from Intermarine USA in 1999 and operated it as Intermarine Inc. Intermarine USA had bought it from Saylor Marine in 1987, for the purpose of building minehunters for the U.S. Navy. Saylor Marine had bought it from Aegis Corp. in 1984. Aegis Corp. had bought it in 1968 from Walter Lee Mingledorff, Jr. whose father founded the shipyard in 1912 as Savannah Machine & Foundry.

Be all that as it may, the yard has a great location and some nice facilities.

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