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THE ODENFELD FACTS The events concern a tanker of about 95,000 tons deadweight, formerly named Arnsberg and then renamed Odenfeld. The story began during the tanker boom in 1973 and ended during the slump in 1976, when she was laid up. The plaintiffs form part of a group of finance companies owned and controlled from the United States and specialise in shipping finance. Their president is and was at all material times a Mr. Shapiro who lives in London. The defendants are a Panamanian company carrying on business in Israel. They were formed in 1969 to operate the oil pipeline across Israel from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean and own and charter tankers in this connection... The defendants to counterclaim (Occidental) were the owners of the vessel and one of a large number of oneship subsidiaries owned or controlled by Maritime Fruit Carriers (MFC), a company based in Israel and itself largely owned by a Panamanian company, Pan Maritime S.A. It was in this atmosphere that Dr. Dinstein urged MFC to make a large tanker available to the defendants. MFC were then in the process of selling the Arnsberg (to be renamed Odenfeld) and another vessel to American buyers. But they agreed to consider a deal with the defendants instead, provided that a satisfactory agreement could be reached which would provide them with some immediate cash. For this purpose they required a tong-term time charter at a fixed or at least a minimum rate of hire; a "bankable charter", as they referred to it during the negotiations. They did not regard a charter with an uncertain and fluctuating rate as any use for their purposes; nor would it have been on the banking evidence before me. They were therefore only willing to charter the vessel out on the basis of market rates if the charter provided on its face for a fixed or minimum rate of hire, so that it could be used as the basis for a loan. It consists of having a charter at a fixed or minimum rate of hire which is capable of being presented to a potential lender for what it appears to be, but which is at the same time supplemented by a "side letter" arrangement to the effect that, in one way or another, the charterers will in fact only be assuming responsibility for hire at the market rate. On seeing the charter-party and taking it at its face value, a bank would then be willing to consider a loan, but without knowledge of the side letter arrangement. This device had been successfully used between the parties in the case of Idan on terms to which I shall have to return. The charter was concluded in the autumn of 1970 for a period of six years from delivery. On its face it showed a fixed rate of hire for
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