September 22, 2008
Lindenau-Werft declares insolvency
German shipbuilder Lindenau-Werft in Kiel has declared insolvency.
The move came after a weekend of negotiations involving the yard, the IG-Metall union, banks and government officials had failed to find any way to get the yard out of a cash crunch that threatens its ability to complete a double-hull tanker currently under construction for long-time customer German Tanker Shipping of Bremen.
The yard has an order book worth &euro: 225 million and no debt, but has been unable to raise about €9 million of short term financing.
Lindenau-Werft President Dirk Lindenau broke the news of the insolvency to a meeting of the workforce at which he promised to "struggle to the bitter end" to keep the yard in operation.
Lindenau-Werft has been through tough times before. Dirk's grandfather Paul Lindenau founded the yard in 1919 in Memel (now Klaipeda in Lithuania). In 1944 he brought his workers and their families to safety in a floating dry dock that had been made seaworthy--escaping the Red Army and establishing the yard in a new home in Kiel.
Kiel IG-Metall chief Wolfgang Mädel told NDR radio that he thinks that the yard can be brought out of insolvency through the creation of a new GmbH limited company structure. He said that under the insolvency process the yard's payroll would be met through the end of November.
Schleswig-Holstein's Economics Minister Werner Marnette says that Lindenau has successfully created a niche market in shipbuilding. "I am sure that this undertaking will have a future," he declared and promised the full support of the state government. However EU competition rules will severely restrict what he can do.
Meantime the fate of Lindenau-Werft lies largely in the hands of highly regarded insolvency administrator Jan H. Wilhelm of specialist law firm HWW Wienberg Wilhelm, while Dieter Görlitz, a retired former member of the Board of HDW Kiel, will be looking at restructuring production at the yard.
Among the experience that Görlitz brings to that task is a stint in the 1980's helping India build submarines (he became the first German Chairman of the Bombay Swimming Club, where he holds a lifetime honorary membership). This was followed by a similar mission in Korea and later serving as Chairman and CEO of Hellenic Shipyards in Greece.