Ship Builder Friede Goldman Halter Takes Another Financial Hit

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- Struggling shipbuilder Friede Goldman Halter Inc.'s finances took another hit with a $73.2 million loss in the first quarter ending March 31.

Gulfport-based Friede, in the middle of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, recorded a loss of $3.1 million for the same period last year. The company's stock, which was delisted by the New York Stock Exchange, lost $1.50 a share in the first quarter, compared with a loss of 8 cents a share in the year-ago period.

The stock had fallen below $1 a share in the past month. Friede listed liabilities as of March 31 of $566 million, up from $381 million on Dec. 31. It has nearly $260 million in long-term debt that's in default.

Friede made no official announcement regarding the report. Spokesman Chris Cunningham said the company continued to prepare its reorganization plan and likely would use all of its allotted 120 days.

``It takes every bit of that time,'' Cunningham said. ``It's a complicated process.''

Friede has lost tens of millions of dollars in recent years because of construction delays and contract disputes on four massive drilling rigs.

Earlier this month, the company stopped work on two of the rigs, which were being built for Petrodrill. Friede has asked the bankruptcy court to negate its ``highly unprofitable'' contracts with Petrodrill.

Cunningham said the judge could rule in the next day or so. Petrodrill is a consortium formed by Pride International in Houston and Brazil's Maritima Engineering.

Friede is trying to raise capital by selling some assets as it works on other projects. Two weeks ago, the bankruptcy judge approved Friede's $33.5 million sale of its French subsidiary to Hydralift ASA of Norway. At the time, Friede chief executive John Alford said the deal gave the company liquidity and resources to start new projects.

Cunningham said Friede has a construction backlog of $324 million, as well as a pending $400 million contract to build four patrol vessels for the Egyptian navy. Friede designs and manufactures rigs, vessels and equipment for the maritime and offshore energy industries at Gulf Coast yards in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.