Three shipping champions emerge in Italy

Nicola Capuzzo was among 3,000 guests at last Friday’s Shipbrokers and Shipagents Dinner held in Genoa.

The Italian shipping industry is on a rollercoaster like all the other shipping clusters worldwide, but three companies are emerging as ‘buyers’ while just about all the rest of the market players are involved in debt restructurings and asset sales.

At the latest Shipbrokers and Shipagents Dinner held in Genoa (the event was part of the Genoa Shipping Week) Gian Enzo Duci, president of the ship agents association Assagenti, told Splash: “The Italian shipping companies are staying strong in the current market scenario with the pros and cons of their traditional family-business models”.

On one hand, most of them have not invested heavily in newbuildings when the market was at the top, but on the other hand it has been often a limit on the dimensional side of the fleets managed. According to Duci: “In the Italian shipping industry three well known champions are emerging: Grimaldi Group, d’Amico Group and Costa Cruises. The fourth would be MSC Group but they are based in Geneva even if they are active in Italy with MSC le Navi Agency, box terminals and the ferry operators Snav and Grandi Navi Veloci.”

Looking at the liquid bulk market Matteo Tomarchio, a tanker broker at Banchero Costa, said: “The Italian shipping companies in 2015 are benefitting from higher daily rates both for product tankers and for oil tankers in the Med region and in most of the other trades.” Given the fact that some major refineries are relocating and opening in the Middle East, a ton/miles expansion is underway and the traditional routes have changed substantially. “That’s why at present the MR2 tankers are showing the best performance while I think the LR1 may be even more interesting looking at the future revenues,” added Tomarchio.

Very sad expressions were on the face of the dry bulk owners and operators struggling with daily charter rates still hitting bottom. Michele Bottiglieri, ceo of Michele Botttiglieri Armatore, told Splash at the gala dinner: “There are few weak signs of recovery and the BDI is still under 1,000 points. To go on working in this way is hard for everyone and we are almost at the point of every man for himself.” The Naples-based shipowner again called into the question (as he did in his recent Maritime CEO interview) the role of the banks saying: “They have completely turned off the loans instead of giving money in a time of market opportunities.” On the contrary Francesco Fuselli, ceo of Banchero Costa and an expert in ship finance, believed: “Italian banks have not disappeared completely from the scene but nowadays they are mostly involved in restructuring instead of looking at new investments. However, they are still lending money to solid companies with promising projects and that was also the case of some Italian firms in the past months.”

By and large, Italian shipowners are sellers in 2015 as confirmed by Paolo Cartasegna, an S&P broker with Genoa Sea Brokers. “We have many ships to sell at the moment but the shipping market is bearish, dry bulk in particular, and also the scrap rates are going down. For that reason this is not exactly a nice period for shipbrokers too, in Italy and abroad,” Cartasegna said.


Nicola Capuzzo

Nicola is a highly qualified journalist focused on transport economics, logistics and shipping with broad experience in both online and printed media. Specialties: shipping, ship finance, banking, commodities and port economics. He regularly interviews Europe's top shipowner executives for Maritime CEO magazine.
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