Is Excel Maritime Close to Filing for Bankruptcy Protection?

Excel Maritime Carriers (UNKNOWN: EXMCQ.DL  ) may be nearing bankruptcy. That was the upshot of a report in Friday's Wall Street Journal, citing "a person familiar with the matter," who said that the struggling bulk shipper is trying to restructure its $1.4 billion "syndicated credit facility" to avoid insolvency, and may have to enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings if it fails -- or even if it succeeds.

The news prompted a sharp spike in trading of Excel shares Friday, and an even sharper decline in the share price, which plummeted 45% to close at just $0.43 per share.

For its part, Excel issued a terse press release Friday acknowledging that "it has been contacted by the New York Stock Exchange concerning certain press reports and the high volume of trading in the Company's common shares."

The press release did not mention the bankruptcy issue at all, but simply stated, "The Company's policy is not to comment on market rumors or press reports."

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