Former Torm CEO launches ambitious bulk project

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The former head of Torm, Klaus Kjærulff, has teamed up with fellow shipping magnate Jan Bech Andersen – also known as the primary shareholder in Danish football club Brøndby IF – and former Fearnley senior broker Jan Lund, to invest in the bulk market.

The three partners registered the company Vincent Shipping AS in Oslo last year with the aim of capitalizing on the past year’s low vessel prices, not least in bulk.

Of course, we have ambitions to go further.”

— Jan Lund, CEO and Partner, Vincent Shipping AS.

Since then, shipping investors have stepped up with capital for Vincent Shipping, where Lund will serve as CEO and Kjærulff as chairman. At the beginning of 2017, the new carrier purchased its first ships in the form of 57,000 dwt Supramax bulk vessels, built in 2010-2011.

Since its establishment and as co-founder of Vincent Shipping, Bech Andersen has stepped up to the position of CEO in Geneva-based Clearlake Shipping (Gunvor Group, -ed.) during 2017, and does not participate in the daily operations and carrying out of strategy at Vincent Shipping.

The first three vessels have been delivered to Vincent Shipping over the May-July period this year, and are operated externally on respective short contracts, reveals Lund to ShippingWatch.

“This is ultimately quite uncomplicated, but back at the end of 2015, we spoke about the fact that we were nearing a very interesting point for investments in bulk. We, of course, have had to spend some time making contact with the right investors, and we are rather positive about future potential. This applies to the rest of this year and next year, while we also have reason to believe that 2019 will be a very interesting year. Although there have been some tonnage contracts, it has been rather moderate,” says Lund, who continues:

“Of course, we have ambitions to go further. The departure point for us has primarily been the bulk sector, but we are following the development in other segments such as container and, as a matter of fact, product tanker, even though it is somewhat more peripheral at the moment.”

Increasing ship values

Half-yearly reports from leading, listed bulk carriers have confirmed within the last month that the sector likely hit rock bottom in 2016 in the form of the worst crisis in 30-40 years, and now increasing rates are followed by increasing ship values.

However, progress has been moderate so far in 2017, while the picture looks more promising in 2018. The global bulk fleet faces moderate growth and there are prospects of significantly rising rates and ship values of around 30 percent from the extremely low rates, which the major analyst firms have noted can mean that buying bulk carriers could be a lucrative business for new investors.

This is a reflection of the fact that there is strong potential in bulk.”

— Klaus Kjærulff, Chairman and Cartner, Vincent Shipping AS.

The low vessel prices from the past year within bulk in particular has seen several new carriers emerge, and investors with companies such as Norway’s Songa Bulk lead by business magnate Arne Blystad and CEO of Golden Ocean, Herman Billung, are among the most hotly discussed at the moment.

Meanwhile, the capital fund-financed Celsius Shipping, led by Denmark’s Jeppe Jensen as CEO, has one of the biggest appetites for acquisitions among the newer bulk companies, with the purchase of a double-digit number of vessels, much like Songa Bulk.

Similarly to the other new companies, Vincent Shipping has been established as an asset management platform, where the operation of vessels takes place externally.

Per Olav Karlsen, the CEO of Cleaves Securities in Oslo, has been and is the financial advisor for Vincent Shipping.

Liquid bulk market

The keen interest from new investors does not concern Kjærulff, who sees the development as an advantage.

“This is a reflection of the fact that there is strong potential in bulk, which is clearly the most liquid market in shipping relative to container and tanker. And the way that the bulk market is currently developing, means that our timing could become interesting,” says Kjærulff.

Today, Kjærulff sits on several boards including that of Nordic Tankers and maritime insurance company Skuld [chairman, -ed.] just as he was part of a circle of shipping profiles that launched the new Oslo-based niche bank Maritime & Merchant.

Jan Lund is managing partner in Vincent Shipping, with several years of experience with the acquisition and sale of vessels as a broker in Norwegian firm Fearnley, while Jan Bech Andersen’s shipping career has included stints at Torm and ST Shipping in the oil commodity trader Glencore.

Bech Andersen also has investments beyond shipping with a controlled shareholding in the football club Brøndby IF as the most publicly profiled.

English Edit: Lena Rutkowski

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