In late March a low profile mainland Chinese owner based in Hong Kong broke its cover taking a pair of three-year-old kamsarmax sisterships – the Smooth Vitality and Smooth Velocity for just shy of $14m each. The deal done by EGPN Bulk Carrier comes with a time charter attached at $5,500 per day until January next year.
The two 82,000 dwt bulkers are the last remains from bust Sainty Marine’s fleet buildup and were built at Sainty’s now defunct yard in China.
A week earlier EGPN had chartered in a modern cape for 11 to 13 months, while at the beginning of March it fixed another ship for four to six months.
The private Chinese outfit was registered in Hong Kong a few years ago and was formed as a result of a merger between two Beijing-based charter operators.
Zhang Yun, EGPN’s general manager, sees rising prices this year for both commodities and ships as a sign the market has finally turned for the better. Moreover, Beijing’s increased support for fixed asset investment this year suggests there should be less risk in bulk carrier investment for Chinese owners, Zhang reckons.
“We believe the shipping market will have a great chance to rebound after a long depression,” Zhang tells Maritime CEO in our regular Friday shipowner slot. Zhang is especially hopeful for capesizes.
The EGPN fleet now stands at two owned vessels and more than 20 chartered ships. Six capesizes and three supramaxes are under one-year contracts and the rest are on the spot market.
“We will acquire more ships if there are suitable opportunities,” Zhang reveals.