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02 Dec 2022

Stephenson Harwood advises StraitNZ subsidiary on new purchase

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Law firm Stephenson Harwood LLP has advised StraitNZ Limited's (StraitNZ) New Zealand subsidiary, Ferry Lines Limited, on its purchase of a Ro-Ro/Passenger MV Connemara.

The vessel was registered under the Bahamas flag on delivery– due to time constraints and because New Zealand companies are restricted from owning foreign flag vessels – with a newly incorporated Singapore SPV receiving the title for the buyer. The entity was incorporated by Stephenson Harwood's Singapore alliance partner firm, Virtus Law LLP. The transaction involved unwinding an existing leasing and dual-flagging arrangement, as well as re-flagging and placing new securities over the vessel on the same day, which required the Stephenson Harwood team to liaise with Marshall Islands, Cyprus and Bahamas ship registries and the correspondent counsels across different time zones.

The vessel was delivered in drydock in Dunkirk. It will undergo some work, after which it will be sailed to New Zealand where there will be a further transfer of ownership from the Singapore SPV to StraitNZ's New Zealand subsidiary and reflagging from the Bahamas to the New Zealand flag. Stephenson Harwood's marine and international trade team assisted with the review of the drydocking and ship management agreements.

The Stephenson Harwood team was led by Singapore-based partner Pedram Norton, who was supported by marine and international trade partner Justin Gan. Singapore law assistance was provided by Virtus Law LLP partner Jason Yang, who was supported by associate Angeline Yap. Virtus Law LLP partner Colin Jarraw acted as Singapore counsel for the incoming mortgagee. London-based managing associate Roderick McGeachy, senior paralegal Dharshini Raviendran and legal manager Kathleen Wan assisted with the closing aspects in London. Hong Kong-based partner Elton Chan and associate Tinnie Chan assisted with the unwinding of the existing leasing arrangement and discharge of security, with Singapore-based M&A partner Tom Platts acting as overall relationship partner for the transaction.

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