March 15 - Rickmers Group posted revenues of EUR587 million (USD652 million) in 2015, a 7.6 percent rise compared with EUR545.4 million (USD605 million) in 2014.

The shipping company also recorded a 20.8 percent increase in EBITDA to EUR253.1 million (USD281 million), which it attributed to a stronger dollar versus the euro, as well as active cost management.

In the reporting period, Rickmers-Linie generated revenues of EUR172.1 million (USD191 million), which was below the previous year's level of EUR189.5 million (USD210 million).

The company explained that Rickmers-Linie focused on the main trade routes and a reduction in fleet capacity utilisation in 2015, all of which led to a year-on-year decline in many areas, including a fall in transported freight volumes to 1.8 million freight tonnes.

The group noted that it successfully restructured bank loans totalling USD1.39 billion in February 2015.

Based on the 2015 financial figures, rating agency Creditreform confirmed its existing rating of B- for Rickmers Holding.

Rickmers Group stated that it sees a range of market environment challenges facing the company in 2016.

"Despite the expected slight improvement in the overall economic situation, this will probably not be reflected in the development of charter and freight rates which will probably remain entrenched," said a statement.

The group expects a decline in revenues as well as a year-on-year drop in EBITDA for the next year.

To counter the slowdown in the shipping markets, Rickmers Holding has endorsed a package of measures approved by the management board this month, which includes the sale of selected non-core vessel and company shareholdings, as well as the refinancing of selected bank loans and the optimisation of group-wide cost structures.