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Bulk buying interest heats up

Owners are waiving inspections for dry bulk carriers, a surefire sign of a firming market

It has been a hectic February in the world of S&P as owners scramble to get dry bulk bargains in place ahead of a perceived long rally in rates. Prices for secondhand bulk carriers are going up, and many think they will continue to do so.

The S&P panel reporting to the Baltic Exchange gave a thumbs up to five-year value reassessments on Friday. Capesizes were reassessed at about $$33.5m, kamsarmaxes at $23m, supramaxes on $16.4m and handysizes now assessed at $15.2m.

“The dry sale and purchase market continues to strengthen and buyers appear to be more aggressive on their pricing,” commented Rebecca Galanopoulos Jones, head of research at Alibra Shipping, going on to observe how inspections were increasingly being waived, a surefire sign of a hot market.

Surging dry rates continued on kamsarmaxes throughout February despite Chinese New Year, leading to sustained S&P activity. Most action saw Japanese kamsarmaxes finding new homes in Greece.

The next stage is the fools step in

“It’s hardly a surprise to see the gutsy Greeks leading from the front and no doubt others will follow suit. Although by that point prices will have moved up 10-15%,” one Asia-based broker commented.

“Activity is massively up and prices are following,” said one London-based handy operator. “This is the moment where the really smart realise that assets are still cheap but more expensive than the bottom, and they buy again. The next stage is the fools step in.”

Nasdaq-listed Greek bulker owner Castor Maritime was the most active buyer this month. The cash-rich owner led by Petros Panagiotidis embarked on a dramatic fleet build-up in recent weeks. Castor was a pureplay panamax bulker owner before adding three kamsarmaxes and two aframaxes in February.

Notable dry bulk deals this month included the en bloc sale of two 2010-built 80,300 dwt kamsarmaxes, Globe Electra and Globe Danae. Greek owner Sea World Management sold the pair to compatriot Greek buyers for about $15.75m each.

Nissen Kaiun sold the 2011-built, 80,000 dwt Nord Venus kamsarmax to Nasdaq-listed Globus Maritime for $16.5m. The Japanese owner also pocketed $18m from the sale of the 2012-built Kinoura kamsarmax, bought by unspecified Greek owners.

Tanker prices ticked up fractionally this month on the back of a perception that the absolute nadir of the markets had been reached. Surging oil prices also gave tanker owners cause for hope.

Notable deals this month centred around vintage VLCCs including Singapore’s Shenchi Energy buying the Japanese-controlled, 2003-built Eneos Breeze VLCC. The 20-year-old, 306,300 dwt Maran Castor with special survey and drydocking due was sold to Chinese interests for $22m, while Hellenic Tankers sold the same aged, slightly bigger 309,000 dwt Marion for just over $24m, also to Chinese buyers.

In the hot secondhand containership sale and purchase market, according to Braemar ACM Shipbroking, the lack of prompt, charter free tonnage continues to push asset values ever higher with a number of negotiations ongoing at levels considerable higher than last done.

Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) and Wan Hai Lines continued to dominate the boxship buying scene.

This month MSC moved to acquire the 2004-built, 1,850 teu Acacia Makoto from China’s Qingdao Pengteng for $6.95m, the 2009-built 1,730 teu Voronezh from Fesco for $9m, and the 2006-built, 1,732 teu RHL Aurora from Hamburger Lloyd for $6.5m.

Wan Hai, meanwhile, picked up the 17-year-old, 6,030 teu My Ny for a very firm $25m. Sellers Technomar picked up the Japanese-built ship in January 2018 for just $11m. Wan Hai also bought the 15-year-old, Hyundai Heavy-built, 5,642 teu Granville Bridge for $18.5m.

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