Phrixos Papachristidis, grandson and namesake of Hellespont’s founder, became CEO at the age of 28. That was eight years ago now, a tenure at the top during which he has had to endure one of the worst storms to ever hit the shipping markets. Now, however, he feels the worst is over and the time has come to expand his 72-year-old company.
“Hellespont has weathered the KG storm. The group is profitable, and free of any debt or residual obligations. It is still 100% privately owned by the Papachristidis family,” Papachristidis tells Maritime CEO in an exclusive interview.
While shipowning remains Hellespont’s main vocation, from 2012 it decided to diversify into third party shipmanagement.
“We started offering these services to friends who quickly became partners. We think our background, our history, our modest size affords us our flexibility which is what attracts our clients,” says Papachristidis, adding how as a manager the company brings a genuine “owner’s intense scrutiny” to all operations.
Today, Hellespont manages 25 vessels, made up of eight tanker, eight bulk carriers and 9 OSVs. These 25 include eight ships that the company has ownership interests in and 17 ships under third party management. Hellespont also provides crewing services for a further 30 ships. The group employs 150 shore-based staff in Hamburg, Athens, Singapore and Manila.
“We are alert to opportunities and working to expand all sectors of Hellespont’s operations: owning, managing and crewing,” Papachristidis says. However, on the management size, do not expect massive growth with the Greek telling Maritime CEO he prefers to be selective, in line with Hellespont’s emphasis on quality rather than quantity.
As far as growing the owned fleet, there’s plenty of projects under investigation.
“We see opportunities coming from distressed assets and continuing yard overcapacity: we are identifying the right projects,” Papachristidis says, identifying LR and MR tankers in particular, both newbuilds and secondhand.
The Papachristidis family started in shipping in 1946 and was established by Papachristidis’s grandfather and namesake. Papachristidis’s father, Basil Phrixos Papachristidis started in the business in 1965, but only took over when his grandfather died in 1981.
After university, the younger Papachristidis went to work for brokers Poten and Partners, before joining Hellespont in 2007 and becoming CEO in 2009.