Tanker Sale & Purchase (S&P) Update

In an effort to be more efficient and focused, from now we will report on this blog only pertinent transactions per market segment and asset class for s&p (sale & purchase market) that have occurred in the last couple of weeks. Transactions and transaction details in shipping are never as transparent and clear-cut as many an analyst or an appraiser may wish to think; having the benefit of time-lapse and fact-checking, we believe that reporting more accurately sales vs reporting them prompter is of greater service to our readership. Also, our reporting will be more structured by market segment and asset class going forward. Transactions will be purely reported herewith; commentary on market conditions and trends, discussion on transactions and developments and their significance will be posted at our sistership blog, Shipping Finance by Karatzas Marine.

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Despite the softening of tanker freight rates in the last two weeks, one has to be humbly impressed by the performance of the tanker sector over the last twelve months, and accept that volatility in the shipping industry is hard to accurately model: VLCC spot rates (the group most volatile but with the easiest-models-to-build of the tanker market) have moved from $33,000 pd this time last year to above the $60,000 pd mark on several occasions in January, March and May this year, flirted teasingly with the $90,000 pd mark three weeks ago, and now have come full circle to appr. $34,000 pd. It has been a great market of sorts, definitely in comparative terms to dry bulk and containership markets, but still, some people have been worrying whether the structural recovery of the sector is still intact: the demolition pace has slowed down, newbuilding activity has increased, but still the time lapse of the deliveries (about a two-year-delay) does not seem to provide much comfort or confidence: tanker stock prices have not outperformed the broad market, to put it liberally, and most of the tanker stocks trade barely at or below NAV at the very best (the implied valuation of their tankers-on-the-water), while tanker IPO hopefuls waiting in the wings, and waiting… and tanker vessel prices really have not justified the buy-low-sell-high asset play strategy of many a shipowner.

The sale and purchase market has quieted down in the last two weeks, partially due to peak vacation season and also due to the chilling effect of a deflating tanker freight market. Besides the rather un-inspiring prices achieved, several of the sales have been controlled by financial investors, including private equity funds. The involvement of private equity funds with shipping has drawn much attention and we have written on the topic in the past; however, seeing York Capital, Wayzata Investments and Apollo, among others, selling vessels – and not shares at IPOs as per original game plan, and sales of vessels in a ‘hot’ market and at prices that do not seem to come remotely close to highly advertised double-digit expected returns of the private equity…but again, barely a week passes with funds folding due to poor performance because of commodities, currencies, emerging markets…at least, shipping has not sunk a fund yet, at least formally.

In the VLCC market, Tufton Oceanic has disposed of MT ‘Sasa’ (300,000 dwt, Hitachi Zosen, 2001) at $40.5 mil to Russian buyers, while Windsor Petroleum has sold to US-based Ridgebury Tankers four sistership vessels at a value-oriented price of $150 mil for the package: MT ‘British Purpose’, MT ‘Progress’, MT ‘Pride’ and MT ‘Pioneer’ (all ca. 305,000 dwt, Samsung Heavy Industries, 2000/2000/2000/1999).


House-flag in the news… Karatzas Photographie Maritime

The Suezmax market has been more active in the last month, reflecting a more fragmented market but also a stronger freight market. The transaction that stood out was the sale of the Veritable fleet by Principal Maritime, which had been sponsored and funded by Apollo; one set of six sisterships built at Samsung Heavy Industries MT ‘Princimar Courage’, MT ‘Princimar Pride’, MT ‘Princimar Integrity’, MT ‘Princimar Grace’, MT ‘Princimar Hope’ and MT ‘Princimar Promise’ (158,000 dwt, Samsung H.I., 2013 / 2012 / 2012 / 2011 / 2011 / 2011, respectively), one set of two-chinese sisterships built in 2010, MT ‘Princimar Joy’ and MT ‘Princimar Strength’ (156,000, Rongsheng, 2010), one set of Japanese built sisterships MT ‘Princimar Confidence’ and MT ‘Princimar Loyalty’ (150,000 dwt, Universal, 2006) and two one-off Korean vessels, MT ‘Princimar Truth’ (160,000 dwt, Hyundai Samho, 2007) and MT ‘Princimar Faith’ (160,000, Daewoo (DSME), 2005) at $662 mil, with payment mostly in cash but also $50 mil in stock. There are several angles to see this transaction since it is estimated that the sellers realized more than $100 mil loss from the sale (estimated cost basis of ca. $770 mil), and also that the sale price was NOT the highest in this auction-like sale transaction. The company has attempted for an IPO late last year but there was not sufficient demand / pricing to proceed then, but it’s to be debated whether demand would had been enough for an IPO now in an allegedly much stronger market, at least as much as freight is concerned. Russian tanker company Sovcomflot has sold their 2003-built Suezmax tanker MT ‘SCF Valdai’ (159,000 dwt, Hyundai Heavy, 2003) to Greek buyers at $35.5 mil. Vintage Suezmax tanker MT ‘Front Glory’ (149,500 dwt, Mitsui Shipbuilding, 1995) was sold by the Fredrisken Group to Far East buyers at $16 mil, almost twice her present scrap value (21,733 ldt). Similarly aged Suezmax tankers (with shuttle-tanker conversion) MT ‘Mattea’ (127,000 dwt, Samsung Heavy, 1997) was sold at $11 mil to undisclosed buyers, rumored Greeks, and MT ‘Kometik’ (126,500 dwt, Samsung Heavy, 1997) was sold at $8 mil to Andromeda Shipping in Monaco. Sisterships MT ‘Cape Bata’ and MT ‘Cape Bowen’ (160,000 dwt, Samsung Heavy, 2003) were sold by KG-funds in Germany to Tufton Oceanic in the UK at appr. $33 mil, each.


A calm tanker market… Karatzas Photographie Maritime.

The aframax tanker market has been rather subdued with the exception of a financial transaction for eight coated LR2 tankers by Navig8 to Chinese buyers at $300 mil; given that there is bareboat back for ten years to sellers / Navig8 little can be said for the below-market ‘sale price’ which can be attributed to the Chinese pedigree of the vessels or Navig8’s persisting rumors abut being able to fund their capex gap for their newbuilding program; vessels were: N/B CSSC Offshore Marine Guangzhou H-057 to H-061 and Hulls H-067 and H-068 (112,000 dwt, CSSC Offshore Marine Guangzhou, 2016/2017); vessels names are MT ‘Navig Gallantry’, MT ‘Navig8 Gauntlet’, MT ’Navig8 Goal’, MT ‘Navig8 Grace’, MT ‘Navig8 Gratitude’, MT ‘Navig8 Guard’, MT ‘Navig8 Guide’ and MT ‘Navig8 Gladiator’. Buyers / lessors are affiliated with the shipbuilding group.

In the MR2 tanker market, a couple of interesting transaction with sellers based in the landlocked Upper Midwest in the USA: Wayzata Investment Partners have sold two product tankers MT ‘Halstead Bay’ (51,000 dwt, SLS Shipbuilding, 2007) at $23 million and MT ‘Maxwell Bay’ (51,000, Guangzhou SY Intl, 2013) at $30 mil, to Torm in Denmark. CarVal Investors have sold sisterships MT ‘Harbour Star’ and MT ‘Super Star’ (51,000 dwt, STX SB (Jinhae), 2008) to Target Marine in Greece at $24.5 mil, each. Tankerska Next Generation has sold two 2015 resales at SPP at $38.5 mil, each to Cardiff Marine in Greece (SPP Hull 079/080, SPP, 2015). York Capital in the US has sold their interest in Hyundai Mipo Hull 2473 (51,000 dwt, HMD, 2015) at $37.5 mil to Scorpio Tankers. Finally, Eletson Corporation of Greece has sold vintage tankers MT ‘Kandilousa’ and MT ‘Serifos’ (46,700 dwt, HHI, 1995) at $8.5 mil.

Overall, the market has not been as busy as it seems with most of the transactions being of ‘corporate’ matters instead of the traditional s&p (sale & purchase). Whether there is no strong conviction from operating buyers to step up on buying or lack of capital constrain their buying appetite, financial players seem to be getting ever more obvious; not as much as with buying, but selling is welcome news as well.


© 2013-2015 Basil M Karatzas & Karatzas Marine Advisors & Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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