Thursday, October 30, 2014

German Love Boat Bankrupt?

If you ever watch Channel Two (ZDF) in Germany, there's an occasional least once a month) called "The Love Boat".  It's always a prime-time show, with an actual cruise boat (MS Deutschland), with a fictional crew taking on six to ten fictional German characters with issues, on a marvelous trip to some exotic land.

The scripting runs in various directions.  Love lost, love found.  Angry and frustrated people finding relief.  Corruption and greed, meeting an end-point.  Depressed people finding things are wonderful in strange and new lands.

My general review of the show is marginal.  Half the show ends up being a sales pitch for the ship or the place they are visiting.  You end up being in love with the background scenery and the cultural display.  The script?  I usually give it two stars.  There's only so much you can do with the scripting and it's more of a tool to display German stars in certain settings, with marginal acting.

Why bring up this whole topic?  Yesterday, the MS Deutschland declared bankruptcy. For 2013, it's a five-million Euro loss.  The judge accepted the paperwork, and it appears that there's enough capital to cover the crew, operations, etc....through the end of 2014.  Some port in early 2015 will receive the ship, while it rests there during the next phase.

Typically, German law allows for state ownership briefly of assets like this while they sort out the ownership business.  Someone will usually come forward with a deal or plan.....offering some payback to the original company (never a one to one deal).  At least that's how it's done with real companies.  In this case....a ship might require some different handling.

The blame for this?  In a curious way, the ship had passengers and should have been at least making marginal profits.  What business reports say (what few exist) is that the owners had a bond deal going to 2012, pumping cash into the operation.  That cash (in the range of fifty million Euro) basically was used up to pay past debt, and less than ten percent of the cash actually went into infrastructure, repairs, or upgrades.

My general prediction is that someone will appear with ample up the bankrupt ship and for a couple of years proudly proclaim themselves as the luxury boat owners at fancy parties and events around Germany.  And then one day.....the bankruptcy episode will repeat itself again.

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