Linda Ho smiles as she recalls how she tried to persuade her godson when he was young not to take a career in shipping. “I told him, try anything else, just not shipping, it’s such a tough business,” says Ho, herself part of Fairmont/Magsaysay shipping dynasty.
The thing is her godson was steeped in shipping lore from an early age. “He was determined that this was going to be his future,” Ho says.
Ho’s godson is Edward Buttery. The surname might help quickly discern why shipping is in his blood. Edward is the son of one of the most famous names in Hong Kong shipping, Chris Buttery, the legendary founder of Pacific Basin and current backer of Epic Gas. And it seems that he is like a chip off the old block – albeit perhaps a more polished one – wheeling and dealing as he starts up his own fleet.
Edward Buttery founded Taylor Maritime in Hong Kong last year. The company name is a nod to his Thai wife, Paula Taylor. Buttery has since gone about pursuing a handysize bulker fleet build up, like Pacific Basin did in the 1990s.
Taylor Maritime’s fleet today stands at five ships, the most recent one acquired was the Kwela from Japan’s Santoku Senpaku for $6.8m. The Mitsubishi Heavy-built vessel comes with four 30.5 ton cranes. All the ships bought so far have been Japanese second hand tonnage.
“Since the family exited the handysize segment with Pacific Basin, we’ve not had the market to reenter until now,” Buttery says. “However with Taylor Maritime we are starting small to lay the foundations for a company we hope will be known for being a reliable long-term partner with high standards and well-run ships.”
Prior to founding the company, Buttery was at Nordea Bank for two years.
Buttery admits he is on the hunt for more tonnage.
“I feel there will be some fantastic opportunities for investment end 2015 and throughout 2016 that any investor with capacity might find difficult to ignore,” he says, adding: “It is my intention to continue to expand the fleet over the next year provided the team remains confident that it can maintain the same focus on the service provided to our customers. Obviously there is some doubt as to how long this poor market will last and as such I remain focused on cash flow and manageable capital structure.”
The opportunity most open to Taylor Maritime is the chance to invest at what Buttery describes as “a historically low point in the cycle” without having to shoulder the weight of legacy issues.
Some might argue it is brave or foolhardy even to start a dry bulk company during one of the sector’s worst and most protracted downturns. Others would say the timing could not be better.
A source was speaking with Chris Buttery’s cohort and Pacific Basin cofounder Paul Over recently. Over told the Maritime CEO source: “This is exactly the time when Chris and I would start buying ships in the old days.”
Clearly the younger Buttery has his father’s sense of market timing in him too.