Livestock shipping giant, Wellard, is looking at its options on how to reclaim technical ownership of its own live export vessel, the Ocean Drover.
It has been leasing the ship from Singaporean finance group, Ruchira Ships Limited, but is actually entitled to full ownership, without any further expenses owing.
Ruchira bought the Ocean Drover more than five years ago as part of a sale and leaseback deal with the then financially-stretched Wellard.
The leaseback period was expected to end in June, with the West Australia company apparently paying off its original commitment, including a final balloon payment, entitling it to reclaim ownership.
Negotiations saw Ruchira organising an extension until August, and then September 1.
However, the official handover failed to eventuate and in the meantime Ruchira's own primary lender, United Overseas Bank, commenced receivership action against the Singaporean company claiming possession of the vessel in lieu of payments for outstanding debts.
Wellard continues to operate the Ocean Drover because it has a long-term charter contract which runs until 2032, if necessary.
Executive chairman, John Klepec, said the shipping company was "vigorously asserting its legal rights in respect of the Drover", built for Wellard 20 years ago.
He said the company would continue to operate the ship as normal and it was still available for charter to its livestock customers, which in the past year have mainly been South American beef cattle exporters supplying buyers in Turkey.
Wellard's troubles reclaiming the Drover follow a similar delay when it was expected to re-take outright control of its Ocean Ute in late 2021.
Completion of that repurchase arrangement extended until 2022.
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