December saw tanker commercial management firm Concord Maritime, launched in April 2018 by Ben Ognibene, move into shipowning with the acquisition of 2007-built Samsung aframax tanker Aegean Blue from Greece’s Arcadia Shipmanagement.
“We like the fundamentals in the aframax markets – global cargo volume growth, rapidly slowing fleet growth, dearth of newbuilds, volatility in rates, and baseline earnings,” Ognibene, formerly with Heidmar, said at the time of the acquisition.
Discussing more in depth the decision to go into shipowning, Ognibene tells Maritime CEO: “We started looking at the TC markets last spring thinking rates were appreciating more quickly than asset values. We built a case to invest in midlife aframaxes which at the time were below historical averages.”
The first ship – the Aegean Blue, since renamed Dakota Strength – has been busy from the moment it was bought, entering Concord’s growing Dakota Tanker pool.
Concord Maritime currently has 13 aframaxes in its Dakota Tankers pool including tankers from Atlas Maritime, Emarat Maritime, International Seaways and Chartworld.
“We are in discussions with other quality owners about participating in the pool,” Ognibene says, also revealing: “We are also evaluating projects, including purchase, for additional aframax vessels.”
The fundamentals for aframaxes still look good for the next couple of years, Ognibene argues, looking at the fleet profile and orderbook.
Ognibene has been in the pools business for the past 16 years. At no time has activity in this niche been as frenzied as this year with new pools starting, old ones changing hands and interest in the concept picking up.
“The pool landscape is shifting,” Ognibene concedes. “Trust is built up over decades. While good marketing and snappy software are alluring, tanker owners usually wind up with the people they know and trust who have delivered for them in the past.”
Connecticut -based Ognibene partnered with private equity firm American Working Capital to form Concord Maritime nearly two years ago, a period of time that has witnessed extraordinary volatility in the tanker trades, something that tends to favour pools.
This article first appeared in Maritime CEO magazine, published this month. Splash readers can access the full magazine for free by clicking here.