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Matson sells a ship to lighten debt load

Matson Inc. has sold one of its containerships but will lease it back from the new owner as a way to cut debt as it borrows more money to pay for new ships, including one scheduled to arrive for the first time in Hawaii on Wednesday.

Honolulu-based Matson said today that it sold the MV Maunalei to an unnamed buyer on Monday. Matson received $106 million for the ship and paid off debt with net proceeds.

The lease allows Matson to use the ship for a 5-year term that can be extended for an additional two years.

Matson said it expects that selling and leasing back the Maunalei will cost $3.2 million more annually but would provide extra “financial flexibility” to the company as it pays for new ships under construction.

Matson in recent years contracted to buy four new ships for a combined $929 million. The first of those ships, named after Hawaii’s late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, is scheduled to arrive Wednesday in Honolulu. The other three ships are scheduled for delivery between March and mid-2020.

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